Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence

Rohit TalwarThe pace of investment in and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in business is accelerating and the level of interest and activity is rising across all sectors. Research from AI business magazine suggests annual corporate investment in AI could rise from $200 million to $60 billion over the next 10 years. The discussion of potential applications, benefits and implications of AI is rising to the top of the agenda for governments and businesses alike.

Below I highlight a selection of key questions that need to be explored if we are to harness and manage the impact of what is potentially the most disruptive technology in history. Every organisation needs to explore these issuers and make their decisions about how they govern, lead businesses and prepare tomorrow’s citizens in the context of how AI could transform literally every sector and every activity on the planet.


  • Why is AI sparking the fourth industrial revolution? What is it about AI that will produce a paradigm shift – not a phase akin to ‘the cloud’ but rather a wholesale change to the way business is done, potentially of more impact than mass production or the Internet?

Current state of play

  • What are we currently doing with AI in our organisation?
  • Where are some of the biggest corporates, vendors, service providers and small to medium businesses (SMBs) in their current AI activities?
  • What is AI achieving for organisations already using the technology? As with past emergent technologies, increased efficiency, productivity, reduced costs are typical and sensible answers, but more specifically how is this occurring, how can it be measured, what is the ROI?


  • A high percentage of business leaders (85 per cent of AI Summit San Francisco delegates) are planning on implementing AI in their organisation in the next 18 months, but how exactly? What are they looking to achieve, what problems are they trying to solve with the use of the technology?
  • Which sectors are/could be embracing and deploying AI to greatest effect for their customers and their business models?
  • What kind of deployments do we envisage in the coming years?
  • What different scenarios are there for the future role of AI across society and business?
  • Will AI be used by some companies to defend their existing business model, or as a creative disrupter to bring radical change to markets?
  • Are we at the cusp or a radical overhaul of the business landscape with new players taking the place of traditional/legacy companies?
  • Would it be possible for a traditional firm such as Hilton to “do an AirBnB” in its sector using AI an enabler – what examples might we see?


  • How important is the internal culture of an organisation to the speed/breadth of AI implementation?
  • Which job roles are currently the ones pushing/responsible for the progress of AI implementation in corporate enterprises, and what roles (e.g. Chief AI Officer?) will be created as AI becomes a more mainstream (and ultimately essential) technology in organisations?
  • Could emotional perspectives – loyalty to an established brand, for example – render AI deployment less effective if the technology is prevented from decision making processes; and restricted to complex analysis?
  • What societal opportunities/challenges could emerge from the evolution of AI?
  • How might we mitigate potential risks and concerns?


  • How might AI capabilities and the AI landscape evolve now and in the short-term future (three to 10 years)?
  • Which branches of AI technologies (machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, image/voice/speech/video recognition, cognitive computing, and robotics) are finding the most useful applications now and in what industry? And which show the greatest and least potential over the next three to ten years?
  • What barriers might emerge to AI fulfilling its promise?
  • When might we see something approaching true Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – how might it manifest itself?

Ethics and Society

  • How should the development of AI be regulated – in the realms of ethics, employment, law, and beyond this in society as a whole?
  • What are the biggest risks and concerns with the development of AI in organisations, and how can these be tackled and mitigated?
  • There are many definitions of AI – does there need to be one accepted way of thinking about AI to allow business/society to understand its potential, or should we accept that there will always be many ways of thinking about AI?
  • The portrayal of AI as a destroyer of jobs and force for evil in some sections of the media is difficult to overcome, but the level of acceptance is already greater now than even a year ago. Will the media always present AI in this way to an extent? Is it necessary to address this or should companies simply continue to go about their business and application of AI, and let their actions speak louder than words?
  • What role should or could governments, business and education institutions play in preparing society for the potentially transformational role and impact of AI?

Rohit Talwar is the CEO of Fast Future Research – a global research and consulting company that specialises in identifying future growth industries and helps governments and global companies to explore and respond to the sectors, ideas, trends and forces shaping the next five to 20 years.

Rohit is a Troy Media Thought Leader. Why aren’t you?

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