Platinum Business Magazine - issue 87

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TECHNOLOGY

Got robots working for you? Nope. Just some clever code By Scott Nursten, CEO, ITHQ

WHY AI IS MORE A THAN I AI is one of tech’s most over-used terms. In 2019, an MMC survey concluded that 40% of EU ‘AI’ startups did not actually use AI. The term is appealing to investors, customers and analysts, leading to regular misclassification which businesses can be very slow to correct. In truth, real AI doesn’t exist yet. Instead, we have machine learning: an algorithm that processes data very quickly and issues a pre-programmed response. While these pieces of code do enable technology to ‘learn’ we’re a long way from Turing’s AI test, where a machine emulates our intelligence so convincingly that a human will mistake it for another human.

MACHINE LEARNING VS AI

Machine learning might not sound as sexy as AI, but these algorithms are helping to protect businesses, prevent fraud and save lives. AI conjures images of slick robots and futuristic worlds. Conversely, its appeal dates back to ancient Greece. Silver coins depicting a mythical automaton called Talos demonstrate as much. Machine learning as a term was coined

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in 1959 by Arthur Samuel from IBM. It is the engine that powers today’s most advanced ‘intelligent’ systems and without it, AI will never exist. Technically, the difference between machine learning, and AI is formal reasoning. Whereas machine learning uses advanced heuristics to adjust its response based on input AI can ‘think’ independently. Anyone who’s used an online chatbot or automated phone system knows how broad a gap we still have to bridge. But is it wrong to use the term ‘AI’? While we can’t have an authentic conversation with an automated system, it is still analysing a shed load of data extremely quickly, demonstrating a sort of intelligence. The problems begin if you believe AI, as it currently exists, delivers more than it can.

Machine learning ❛❛ might not sound as sexy as AI, but these algorithms are helping to protect businesses, prevent fraud and save lives ❜❜

WHEN ‘AI’ AS A TERM IS A PROBLEM

Using AI as a marketing term is fine, providing nobody is being misled. If you believe that AI means you’re getting a superior product guaranteed to deliver a superior outcome, you can find yourself anything from disappointed to dangerously exposed. You can overpay for something that will never deliver the results you hope for, purely because you’ve been seduced by the term ‘AI’. Then there is the question of risk. Allowing unproven AI access to your precious, perhaps regulated data can be a huge error. A badly written algorithm will deliver bad results. It could be missing critical signals amid all the data noise. In the security world, it could be detracting from your overall security posture, as opposed to improving it, leaving you open to a serious breach. We’ve recently worked with two clients, both of whom believed their endpoint security solution was superior because it ‘used AI’. Once we introduced them to SentinelOne, with its extensive proof of AI defeating malware, they realised their mistake.