One Million by One Million | Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: Paul Daugherty, CTO and Chief Innovation Officer of Accenture (Part 1)

This interview explores the machine augmented human capabilities of an AI-driven future that we’re marching towards.

Sramana Mitra: I want to double-click down on some of the work that you’ve done in human-machine interaction and where that is going. Where are the new jobs going to be? What would be the types of new jobs? I suggest we start with maybe one or two use cases and double-click on those.

Paul Daugherty: It’s good to be great back on. Last time, we had a fantastic discussion. I’m sure this will be the same. I just wrote a book called Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. At the heart of it, the plus side illustrates the view that we’ve gained through our experience in doing hundreds of AI projects for clients at our own company as well as our research, in which we talked to 1,500 companies about how they’re applying AI.

We believe that the real opportunity lies in applying this Human + Machine perspective and looking at work differently. For example, in the design industry, AI is really helping people operate more effectively or is giving them superpowers to do their jobs differently. We can take the example of product designers using new tools like generative design. Autodesk’s new capabilities is one example. Other companies are developing similar technologies.

What’s happening is, human designers are still designing the work, setting the parameters, choosing the configuration and ultimately creating great designs. But they’re doing it with more choices and empowerment is coming from technology.

The designer might be saying, “I need the chair to support this much weight and weigh this much amount. It needs to cost a certain amount and use certain types of materials.” AI can then explore that and develop many possibilities to stimulate the designer’s imagination and help the designer to come to a final design that might be completely unexpected from where they started that will best meet those parameters. That’s an example of a human designer getting superpowers to be more creative using technology.

Sramana Mitra: Can you take another click-down on this and give us what kind of design we’re talking about?

Paul Daugherty: It’s being used in many fields from medical product design to the example I gave in furniture. It is being used in automotive component design.

Sramana Mitra: What is the before and the after? What can human beings do today that they couldn’t do without AI?

Paul Daugherty: It leads to better designs and more creative designs that they arrive at more quickly that better meet the constraints they may have. In all respects, it’s improving the process. Many people think of AI as rote automation. This is an example where we’re getting more creative output as a result of the AI being used in the design process.

Another example is in the work we’re doing with a financial services organization where we’re using virtual agents and chatbots to help a customer service agent do their job more effectively. And agents doing customer inquiries have a lot of compliance and obligations about cross-border money transfers and anti-money laundering regulations.

We’re using conversational AI in the form of chatbots to not replace the human agent but to give the human agent their own wingman. That’s an AI chatbot that’s advising the customer service agent on the regulations that they need to pay attention to. The chatbot is listening to the conversation and monitoring the transactions. That allows the human agent to now pay attention to customers in providing better customer service and creating more value for the organization.

This segment is part 1 in the series: Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: Paul Daugherty, CTO and Chief Innovation Officer of Accenture