The Tier 1 support agents in your organization could soon be replaced with artificial intelligence (AI), according to Forrester's predictions for Artificial Intelligence in 2019. For years, concepts such as datacenter automation have reduced the extent to which IT staff must manage the menial day-to-day tasks of system maintenance. This use of automation, however, uses humans to orchestrate the management of systems. With the utilization of AI to handle the banal how-to questions, which typically comprises the bulk of Tier 1 support requests, this reverses that formula, using systems to manage humans—bringing practical meaning to question "Is artificial intelligence a match for natural stupidity?"
SEE: Malicious AI: A guide for IT leaders (Tech Pro Research)
With advances in machine learning and natural language processing, AI's place in organizations will continue to elevate in 2019 and beyond, though these technologies are not a panacea. According to the report, "Pure AI is still at least 100 years away from sending all of humanity on a permanent vacation. What is real, however, is pragmatic AI. Enterprises can—and do—use pragmatic AI to augment human intelligence, automate decisions and processes, and personalize customer and employee experiences. "
The primary encumbrance to this ensuring that AI systems have a quality data set to draw from. The report points to the importance of a mature and well-developed information architecture in order to effectively create and leverage AI in the enterprise.
Naturally, developing an information architecture and the AI systems to leverage it will require human expertise. Forrester cites a talent shortage in this field, indicating that "Two-thirds of AI decision makers struggle with finding and acquiring AI talent, and 83% struggle with retention," adding that the shortages extend beyond hard technology and science fields, as "firms need industry, social, legal, customer experience, and operational expertise to train, manage, and trust AI systems."
Filling these staffing gaps is presenting a problem for hiring managers, as creative problem solving and experience is being valued over degrees, certifications, and coding ability. Forrester claims that "in 2019, we'll see firms start to tackle the AI shortage by applying AI to recruitment," in a move that occupies an uncomfortable middle ground of AI self-replication and the ouroboros eating its own tail. Likewise, the report emphasizes the need for human expertise in for tuning machine learning models, as machine learning "lacks human reasoning capabilities."
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Specialists in AI are in high demand, as "two-thirds of AI decision makers struggle with finding and acquiring AI talent, and 83% struggle with retention."
- According to the report, "Pure AI is still at least 100 years away from sending all of humanity on a permanent vacation."
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James Sanders is a technology writer for TechRepublic. He covers future technology, including quantum computing, AI, and 5G, as well as cloud, security, open source, mobility, and the impact of globalization on the industry, with a focus on Asia.