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AI is thriving but further investment is needed

Credit: ICAI

Boris Krumrey, chief robotics officer at automation expert UiPath, has welcomed the news that the UK Government plans to invest £1billon in artificial intelligence (AI) research.

“AI has the potential to benefit everything that we do,” Krumrey said. “We are already seeing how, by combining robotics process automation and AI, complex capabilities are beginning to emerge. While automation is able to streamline repetitive, rules-based business processes, the software is largely unable to deal with exceptions on its own or make decisions outside of how it has been programmed.

“AI can be used, even in addition to automation software, to approach tasks that require more complex decision-making and analysis, such as natural language processing, recommendation services, and online customer support.”

However, Krumrey has also said that further investment in research and education in AI and robotics is “vital”. He emphasises the importance of understanding the benefits that this technology could bring, including increased employment opportunities.

“These jobs may look different than before,” he explained, “and require other skillsets and knowledge. For example, individuals would be tasked with developing new automation technologies and managing the implementation of these technologies within our business environment. Furthermore, individuals will remain responsible for emotive occupations, such as therapists and teachers – professions that still have low automation potential.”

“The Government also needs policies urgently to address the yawning skills gap in AI and related areas,” added Mike Drew, head of technology at lead executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson. “There is potentially limitless demand from companies to explore and utilise possibilities of machine learning, but a severe shortage of specialists to make this a reality.”

In other AI related news, the Innovation Centre for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI), an open collaborative initiative between knowledge institutes aimed at AI innovation through public-private partnerships, has opened an Innovation Centre for AI.

The ICAI has said that it is focused on the joint development of AI technology through industry labs with the business sector, Government and knowledge institutes

Maarten de Rijke, director of ICAI and professor of Information Retrieval at the University of Amsterdam, commented: “The Netherlands has all the resources to take up a prominent position in the international AI landscape – top talent, innovation strength and research at world-class level. ICAI combines these strengths in a unique national initiative.”

In the joint ICAI-Ahold Delhaize industry lab – the AIRLab – seven PhDs will conduct research into socially responsible algorithms that can be used to make recommendations to consumers and into transparent AI technology for managing goods flows. The research will take place at Albert Heijn and bol.com, both brands of Ahold Delhaize. AIRLab has said it will also place focus on talent development tracks.

The hope that that this partnership will develop Ahold Delhaize’s ongoing initiatives and provide it with insight into how AI can be used to better serve customers.

Frans Muller, deputy CEO Ahold Delhaize, said: “For example, we will look at how to further optimise Albert Heijn’s supply chain by improving the availability of goods by taking into account local weather conditions. Also, we will investigate ways to make the assortment of bol.com even more accessible to customers.”

Author
Bethan Grylls

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