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The possibilities of AI in business can feel limitless and leaders need to be in the know said Dr Deeph Chana during a recent webinar  

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming impossible to ignore, both in our personal lives and our work. But for most people, in both areas of life, the possibilities and pitfalls associated with it are shrouded in mystery.  

"There are numerous myths and facts circulating at any one time about machine learning and AI,” said Deeph Chana, Professor of Practice, during a recent Imperial Future Matters webinar entitled, “Machine Learning and AI - Opportunities and Challenges for Corporates”.  

During the webinar, Dr Chana gave an overview of what AI can do now, as well as the possibilities currently being explored.  

He did this accompanied by guest speakers Prag Sharma, who leads the Emerging Technologies Group within Treasury & Trade Solutions’ Innovation Labs at Citi, and Giles Pavey, data science expert. 

There are numerous myths and facts circulating at any one time about machine learning and AI

Policymakers and other decision makers are not as well equipped to understand the nuances of this technology as they need to be, argued Dr Chana before going on to highlight the possible risks attached to this knowledge gap.  

“All data is history and if there’s nothing but history to direct our actions then inherent bias in society will be reflected in the decisions that will be made by AI and machine learning systems,” he said, adding that a good example of this is the recent controversy over the use of facial recognition technology in policing. 

The question of the values we instill in AI technology is a thorny – not to mention salient – issue. Dr Chana argues it is up to business leaders to educate themselves on this issue in order to help determine the role “corporates will play in shaping a world in which machine learning and AI is implemented” and what that world will look like.  

Naturally, government regulation around the globe will also have an impact on how businesses will be able to use, deploy and develop machine learning and AI systems. This will add confusion to an already complicated situation in which a skills gap among a middle management which does not understand what is required to implement AI strategies exists at a vast number of companies.  

'Never has a skill been so open'

An increasing number of institutions are focusing on AI and machine learning courses, said Prag Sharma, meaning there will be a “steady stream of talent coming out of universities that will fill up the space in the short term”.  

Although, he added, while these younger employees will understand how to code and the maths behind the technology, they will not know how to deploy it in large environments, which us something that “comes from experience”. 

Still, while this may all sound a bit negative, Giles Pavey pointed out that “never has a skill been so open”, with courses and self-teaching possibilities available online, enabling leaders to get to grips with a subject that truly determines the future of business.  

Watch the full webinar recording here.

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About Evie Burrows-Taylor

Evie is Web Content Editor for the Institutional Marketing & Communications team. She is responsible for developing the School's faculty and research communications, working to amplify the School's intellectual leadership to a wide variety of international audiences. She also works on IB Knowledge and the School's news and events coverage.