AI: Defining moment of truth or as assumed future?

Not too long ago, Netflix came up with a show called Friends from College. Everything about the show sounded perfect. And why not? Predictive analytics says so. Its name enwraps the most binge-watched show on the planet (which is Friends), it has Cobie Smoulders who is famously and was freshly out of yet another popular and binge watched show, How I met your mother. But, what went wrong?

Predicting saturation?

Netflix’s AI powered predictive analytics did everything right. But they could not predict the boredom that users would experience with similar-sounding characters of adults who refuse to grow up. As a result, it was cancelled after second season, which many believe was a waste, since it was a well-publicized failure. That was a millions sunk into ideating ‘just another’ show, something a lazy network executive could have done.

Netflix is spending millions and giving away $1 million prizes to turn their recommendations more accurate, or die coding; as they call it. The content behemoth which has made ABC and NBC sweat, has been working to make AI better in a way the world will be surprised.

Future: AI’s Holy Grail

Vala Afshar, the chief digital evangelist at says that prediction of future is the Holy Grail of AI. It as already proven itself to be excellent at diagnosing a problem, and already delivered the promise of aiding real-time decision making with its power to sift and process natural languages; across sources. It has also revolutionized and re-defined customer experience, by pre-empting customer needs. But, how much of strategic decision making can AI Modelling support? Can they warn or pre-empt disasters? How accurate will the predictions be, and to extent can we rely on it? And, more importantly how expensive will the mistakes be?

Uday Kotak, the chairman of Kotak Mahindra Bank, the second largest bank of India said, “No matter how smart AI is, it is based on assumptions. And assumptions can go wrong.” The banking industry cannot afford to make a mistake like Netflix, since their job is keep risks at 0.0000 median.

Boil the Ocean

AI provides the ability to sift through reams and reams of data across factors and conditions, to provide the real truth, by boiling the whole ocean. No more does an insurance company have assume based on basic data, and work on a sales target efficiency of 40-50%. They can pinpoint an area which has incidence of malaria and reach out with a health insurance product. AI can also cleverly creates more leads and sales points, allowing people to directly reach out, bringing in never-before heard efficiency.

Voice versus thoughts

Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google said that while he was sitting right here, and the capabilities of AI has surprised him as well. And, there are unheard of breakthroughs happening as well. We are currently in the era where AI can process voice. Afshar said that an MIT student named Arnav Kapur who invented a device that can transmit vibrations through facial bones, which can be used to have a silent conversation with a machine.

As it is extremely evident, AI has changed the way we perceive the world, and how businesses conduct themselves. But what difference can this change make to us, is left to be seen. Like Jack Ma said, there are no experts of tomorrow, there are only experts of yesterday.

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