Artificial intelligence has evolved to the extent that companies will be using bits of it to streamline job functions, representing an opportunity for employees in the digital world, writes FRANK RIZZO, Technology sector leader at KPMG, South Africa.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can no longer be considered the stuff of science fiction. In fact, it has evolved to such an extent that many companies will soon be using elements of it to streamline job functions – and this represents a significant opportunity for employees in the digital world.
AI brings with it substantial potential for the business to take previously laborious tasks and automate them. And while automation is nothing new, the fact that we are entering a phase where AI targets highly skilled knowledge workers is not something that business have had to address before. So, should South African employees be concerned that they will lose their jobs to AI and automation? There is no denying the fact that there will be an impact, but it is not in the way many think.
Knowledge workers are under increasing pressure to do more given the influx of data inside the organisation. Taking both structured and unstructured forms, employees must continuously learn to innovate and use the data at their disposal to deliver value for the business. All of this is happening in an environment where time is still taken up by numerous day-to-day tasks.
For example, responding to customer queries, performing administrative functions, conducting research, managing aspects of financial and legal services, and so on require people to rely on their intelligence and situational analysis to make decisions and take action.
However, advances in AI and automation means that methodologies will likely come to the fore, where technology can be used to take care of many of these standard activities. The benefit this provides both the organisation and the knowledge worker is that time can now be used more effectively to perform more mission-critical functions.
In many respects, AI is still in its early days, especially when it comes to a mass roll-out across businesses, irrespective of industries. Even though the potential exists, developers and organisations still need to find the most efficient ways of introducing these components into existing processes. In South Africa, where there is a significant rate of unemployment, some might feel threatened by this potential.
And yet, this does not have to be the case.
By using AI to automate certain job functions, the organisation can focus on empowering the employee with additional skills and knowledge required to benefit from the digital economy. By reducing the number of menial tasks, the organisation will be able to create new job functions (for example data scientist) that are designed to harness the potential of a connected society.
Of course, this will not happen overnight. As with any revolution, the fourth industrial revolution currently being experienced will incrementally change the way we work and live.
Industry 4.0 is predominantly focused on automation and data exchanges in manufacturing technologies. Today, focus will be given to reinvention and using technologies in new and different ways to be more efficient and cost-conscious. In reality, we can do very little to stop how technology evolves and how AI will become even more intelligent and intuitive. However, it is not going to be a case of ‘us versus them’. Instead, companies the world over will find ways in which employees will work in collaboration with AI and automation to capitalise on all available resources.
Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’
The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.
Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.
The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.
The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.
The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.
“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”
The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.
Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.
Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page.
How Quantum computing will change … everything?
Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.
“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”
The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential:
- Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts.
- Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand
- Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
- Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials.
Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.