Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

How AR and AI Are Beginning to Impact Business

March, 27 2017

AR’s coming impact on devices and entertainment has been extensively discussed. The gadgets of the future will expand capabilities for providing a better consumer experience. Of course, these developments are important. But I want to discuss here another aspect of AR that has not received as much attention. I want to talk about how AR, and AI along with it, can create significant value at the enterprise level.

There are a number of ways that AR can add value to a company. Caterpillar, the American company that engineers machinery among other things, is helping employees to use AR for equipment repair and maintenance. Through an iPad and AR software, field workers have a greatly enhanced range of solutions to problems. This decreases the amount of time a machine may be out of commission, and in some cases could entirely eliminate the need for additional service visits.

Processes in the office, such as hiring, can be greatly improved through artificial intelligence. Just look at Unitive, the software company developed by computer scientist and cyber security expert Laura Mather. The Unitive software mitigates unconscious bias from hiring to ensure the most qualified candidate is chosen for a job, despite gender, ethnicity, race, or even favorite sports team. (“Yes, this really happens”, says Unitive’s website in regard to sports.)

With AR and AI, there are potentials for abuse. One of the main issues with newer hard and softwares is privacy, which can have far reaching consequences when people are unaware that their data is being shared or used in ways without their knowing approval. The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems is one such program to try to curb these potential abuses. This initiative works on “standards and solutions, certifications and codes of conduct, and consensus building for ethical implementation of intelligent technologies.” The hope here is to influence business leaders and policy makers.

To better understand the social implications of artificial intelligence, Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker have founded the New York based AI Now, a multidisciplinary initiative. The topics at hand include equality in hiring/employment, legal affairs, and infrastructure. The initiative, and others like it, are vital to help monitor evolving technology’s social impacts and to raise flags on possible issues and potential abuse. One component of AI Now, for example, is to research bias and inclusion within the development of AI. As AI Now observes, “data reflects the social and political conditions in which it is collected. AI is only able to “see” what is in the data it’s given.” This can result in biased outcomes.

Keeping a very close eye on the development of technologies like AI and AR and the impact it has on labor is also critical. It’s vital to understand, as labor and automation continue to develop, who will come out ahead and who will fall short. Thinking ahead of these problems is important. How can we help those whom will be negatively impacted by these advancements?

Applying the benefits of enhanced reality to businesses can create ripples of value in different enterprises. In addition to making enterprise processes more efficient, AI and AR can also make workspaces more equitable, and less vulnerable to expensive legal challenge, through practices like hiring. I encourage all forward-thinking professionals in my network to think of ways they can bring AR and AI into their enterprises, keeping the important research of groups like AI Now and the IEEE Initiative in mind.