Kathy Gibson reports – Artificial intelligence (AI) is the big game-changer in business this year, and enterprises need to ensure they are not left behind in this quickly-changing world.

At the same time, vendors and IT resellers need to keep themselves informed and agile enough to pivot quickly as AI changes they way their customers do business.

Nathan Reddy, industry technical specialist at Intel, points out that AL has been dubbed as the next tech bomb.

Speaking on a panel discussion at HPE GreenLake Day in Johannesburg, he says that the perception of machines taking over every job is not accurate.

“AI can be very useful,” he says. “AI will not take over people’s jobs, it will help them to do their jobs. Studies show that AI can accelerate some tasks by 50% or more.”

He acknowledges that certain jobs will become redundant. “But 50 years ago there were jobs that don’t exist today. We need to embrace AI, not turn against it.”

Bruce Busansky, hybrid cloud specialist at Red Hat sub-Saharan Africa, agrees that AI’s time has come.

“We are on the way up the hockey stick now,” he says.

“Yes, there will be things we don’t know yet. The answers are not all there and we are going to find out a lot of new things, but fortunately, vendors like Microsoft have productized the tech so we can work with it.”

On the issue of AI taking over jobs, Busansky believes that, ultimately, the work in businesses is done by people, although we will now do that work using different tools.

“The way we do things has changed over the years, and there is a really big change happening no. Get ready for it because we can’t ignore it.

“It is terrifying, but it is a super-cool time to be in this game.”

Dr Tebogo Sethibe, group executive: information systems and infrastructure at Agricultural Business Council, warns that ethics is a major issue in the application of AI and other new technologies.

“For example, we know there are challenges with face recognition. If you are talking to a machine on a call centre when you believe you are talking to a person, is that ethical? The principle of blockchain that remembers every transaction could run counter to the right to be forgotten and legislation like the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA).

“These potential issues have to be taken into consideration when we talk about these new technologies.”