Denis Tassitano

Robots already coexist with humans

Denis Tassitano

Robots already coexist with humans

The public availability of ChatGPT has opened a new window on the relationship between machines and people. But the truth is that this link is an old one. Today, it improves business, opens up opportunities for growth and helps us to live better lives.

Mankind's passion for creating mechanisms that have a "life" of their own left its first traces in ancient Egypt. Some evidence tells us that the first automatons in history were created there. Far from dying out, it has reached our days with new attempts and great advances.

And there have been changes not only in the techniques and ways of bringing these living machines into existence, but also in the purpose for which people create, design and develop them. However, the science fiction version where computers think like people is not yet a reality.

So what has changed from antiquity to today? For one, some doubts have been dispelled and people's understanding of the possibilities that technology and artificial intelligence can do for humanity has shifted from rejection and fear to a view that values productivity, simplification and the ability to engage in higher-value tasks over the list of those that are repetitive and, at the end of the day, add up to little.

What has brought about such a drastic change in such a short period of time? The tantalising answer is COVID-19. The challenges of a global pandemic forced companies to adapt quickly. Suddenly, a large part of the workforce started working from home and digitalisation became the top priority. According to The Economist Group, "86% of executives say the pandemic has forced their organisations to be more open to experimentation and rapid changes in strategy". But the truth is that the pandemic only accelerated what was already brewing in organisations.

For example, the trend towards globalisation and the need to expand business in a complex regulatory environment is not new. Keeping policies up to date and compliant with a country's regulations can be a full-time job. However, as organisations do business across borders, this task becomes more complex. According to a 2021 analysis by Deloitte, there are 220 regulatory reviews worldwide every day. The job of complying is complex. In addition, the cost of non-compliance is high in terms of fines or money wasted when organisations pay taxes they are entitled to reclaim.

Major economic disruptions also create an incentive for organisations to rethink the way they do business. In the quest for more agile organisations, leaders want to leverage predictive analytics that rely on the management of large amounts of data. IDC estimates that annual digital data generation in 2020 was approximately 64 zettabytes (ZB) of data and will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% over the 2020 to 2025 forecast period. Besides sounding like a ridiculous, made-up number, each zettabyte is the equivalent of one trillion gigabytes. Is it still abstract? To make it a little more concrete, we can try to imagine all the data that flows out of every computer, mobile device and machine sensor in the world every year.

Perhaps the most crucial factor driving the need for smart technologies today is to create better experiences for employees. Our expectations for productivity will only increase. At the same time, we are living through the most stressful and anxiety-filled period in recent history. We need to give people the tools to facilitate everything we ask them to do while encouraging a better work-life balance. According to Forrester Research, within two years 80% of organisations' HR strategies will focus on employee experience as a top priority.

Specifically, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are very useful tools for IT, finance, accounts payable, security and travel managers, enabling them to optimise processes and free people from manual and repetitive tasks. Indeed, some areas where artificial intelligence is working to great effect are, for example, risk mitigation and compliance in employee spending, auditing and tax management.

Perhaps for these reasons, as well as others closer to our personal lives, we have invited robots, now embodied in algorithms and lines of code that we do not see but use, to become part of our lives. When was the last time you unfolded a map from the glove compartment, organised the CD changer in the boot of your car, opened an encyclopaedia or ran your thumb through a phone book? Even the chat function on your utility companies' websites often starts with an artificial intelligence bot that then seamlessly directs your question to the right call centre human.

The truth is that AI and automation have created more than 58 million new jobs around the world and, as they advance, new job opportunities will emerge. And while the new robots take care of the operational side, people can focus on adding more value, thinking and creating.

In this sense, artificial intelligence makes humans more human by allowing us to do things that really matter.

Author: Denis Tassitano

Vice President of SAP Concur for Latin America and the Caribbeane

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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