Practical AI at CES 2019 S14 Ep48

Guest: Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft VP of AI and ISV

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As the hype settles, practical AI emerges.  The use of AI in various forms is gaining traction.  Who can benefit from AI and how? Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft VP of AI and ISV, joins us in the Mobile Studio at CES 2019.  He shares his thoughts on CES and how AI is taking shape. The cool AI of last year gives way to the practical AI of today.

Practical AI

CES 2019: Electronics and More

Steve, like myself, is a CES veteran.  He’s been coming to the show for years.  What has stood out about CES 2019? Clearly, it’s no longer just about electronics.  In fact, technology has taken over with just about every industry represented. Yet, for Steve, there hasn’t been a clear theme for CES 2019 above the din.  A noticeable change over the years is the companies represented. Among the TV manufacturers that have dominated in the past, new companies and relatively recent ones are taking center stage.  From Amazon and Google to startups and new Chinese companies, CES 2019 is quite different from that of 15 years ago. Some of the trends Steve noticed were smart homes, AI, Mixed Reality, and quantum.

Besides the displays, one of the biggest benefits of CES is the side meetings.  CES brings all the right people together. It’s the perfect chance to schedule meetings with customers, clients, partners the world over without having to travel all over the world.

Overhype, Disillusionment, and the New Wave

Although some things are overhyped, companies are less prone these days to hype their products.  Things get notice and tracked. As Steve puts it, he sees “less of companies sticking their necks out.”  The hype is still there and often it’s propagated by press with limited tech savvy. With too much hype raising expectation, the trough of disillusionment looms.  

Both Steve and I have done vision videos.  Rather than hype, vision videos convey the work of innovation and how it can play out in the future.  Innovation takes investment, commitment, and time. Overhype doesn’t factor that.

The building blocks of yesterday – compute, storage, networking – are not the building blocks of today.  IoT, blockchain, AI are the new wave of building blocks. People need to get out of the hype cycle and see the horizon.

 

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AI and ISV

At Microsoft, Steve works with ISVs.  Steve helps line of business ISVs move towards SaaS.  

In addition, his focus is on AI.  As AI is becoming a hardened layer in the stack, cognitive services research is moving into APIs.  This is the work of the Microsoft Azure team.

Of the basic elements of AI – the cloud, data, the algorithms – the rate of change for the algorithms has “accelerated immensely.”  The innovation in machine learning comprehension tool sets is “superfast”.

AI from the Front Row

AI is multi-faceted.  Some areas of AI are picking up quickly.  Others are slower. While the more complex, integrated AI takes more time, some AI aspects that are gaining traction include:

  • Virtual Agents – bots that are proactive, reactive and conversational
  • AI enhanced tools for professionals – lawyers, doctors, marketing
  • Knowledge management – making a broad set of information easier to graph
  • Autonomous systems
  • Combining computer vision and other tools to digitize a physical space

The practical AI Steve promotes requires a logical approach.  For building a long-term asset, BI must come before AI. The questions he asks steer towards purposeful AI:

  • Is your data in order to do something with?  
  • What do you actually want to build yourself versus use what others have?
  • Where do you want to customize?  
  • Want to build a business out of it? Let's talk.

Is AI Right for You?

To help companies determine if AI is right for them, Steve has more questions for companies to ask:

  • How do I want to use AI to run my company better?
  • Should I build, buy, or partner?
  • Where do I want to infuse AI?
  • How do I differentiate my company with AI?
  • What do you want to add value to?
  • How do you want to add value for your customer?

If AI will not add value in the right areas, don’t do it.

When AI Fails

Often, it’s the bespoke AI project that fails. AI developed around data that is no longer tied to the core data can quickly lose its relevancy.  Failure is common with the bespoke AI project done to impress senior leadership without regard for its actual value to the business.

Another fail is the grand vision that is impossible to implement given situation and resources.  It could be a lack of expertise, financial backing, or executive patience.

Ethics and AI

Ethical AI is an important issue.  To lay out their viewpoint and start the conversation, Microsoft issued The Future Computed.  Steve advises that companies using AI have a framework for addressing ethics and AI.

If you would like to track what Steve is doing at Microsoft, visit the Microsoft AI webpage.  You can also track him on  Twitter or  LinkedIn.

Thank you to Steve Guggenheimer for once again joining us on the show.

To hear the interview with Microsoft VP of AI and ISV Steve Guggenheimer at #CES2019, listen to this week's show: Practical AI at CES 2019 S14 Ep48.

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