In a short but extremely informative and quirky session at Techsparks 2016, Abinash Tripathy, Co-Founder and CEO of mobile customer service software Helpshift, discussed the potential impact of Artificial Intellegence, machine learning and deep learning on SaaS-based businesses.
Noting the ongoing transformation in the SaaS industry, Tripathy said that for the first time, machine learning, deep learning and data science are being incorporated into SaaS technologies to provide intelligence to customers.
Addressing the pivotal difference humans and AI, Tripathy said that what makes us humans is our innate ability to learn from our experience so that we don’t repeat them again, whereas a computer is programmed to do things a certain way. It does not possess the ability to decipher between right and wrong.
Historically, AI as a field of study has existed since the 1950s. As a concept, it probably dates back to Aristotle. However, once people started realising AI’s true potential, the money started pooling in, particularly from governments. Organisations like DARPA and NSF put in all their efforts into the technology – “which is very hyped, kind of like e-commerce in India, right?” he jested.
The reason AI has become so powerful now is because of the copious amount of data that exists today compared to earlier. Tides turned in 2001, and since then “we have more data than we know what to do with.”
Moving on to the subject of enterprise computing, Tripathy explained that the pre-1960s was the ‘paper era’ with no computers or databases. On the arrival of the latter, data could finally be fixed into databases, and so what essentially took place between the 1960s and the 1980s was large-scale digitalisation. He termed the early 2000s as the era of automation and the current times as the intelligence era, when, with all the information that is provided to AI, it can actually return some knowledge to users.
As for the future, Tripathy declares it ‘autonomous’, explaining that even enterprise apps turning to the AI trends, which is definitely going to have a radical impact on the existing 300 billion dollar market. Chances are that this market will grow by a billion because of the headway we make in AI, providing entrepreneurs with more opportunities to tap into.
Contrary to popular notions on the subject, Tripathy believes that the progression of AI is going to be a gradual process, beginning with simple intelligent notifications, suggestions from customers (working via the information pooling into its system) and the like. These suggestions will give way to predictions, some of which have already been in use in financial industries. Finally, the fourth step that will make it supreme is communication, which, with the influx of bots and other AI technologies, will make responses shorter and more effective, eliminating human biases.
Tripathy concluded the exciting session with a famous quote from the Father of AI himself, John McCarthy, who, in 1995, had said
If you want to do good work, work on the technology and not on getting power.
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