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Winning the Future: 5 Digital Trends You Can't Afford to Miss in 2019 and Beyond

Roland Alston, Appian
March 25, 2019

(This is the first installment of our 5-part series, Winning the Future: 5 Digital Trends You Can't Afford to Miss in 2019 and Beyond. Read part 2here.)

Thesecret to hitting your digital transformation goals out of the park is getting in front of consequential trends: like the artificial intelligence (AI) and ethics debate.

So, rather than give you a microscope to focus on the technology behind AI, we're giving you a telescope to see the big picture and get a head start on the future instead.

We begin this five-part series on winning the future with the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) is on the verge of spreading further than anyone ever imagined beyond just automating tasks to grow ethical and responsible as well.

Read on to discover what you need to know to get ahead of the AI curve, no matter what industry you're in.

The AI Ethics Debate Will Heat Up

AI is already everywhere. We interact with it daily. You can't see it but it's there, embedded in more than one billion devices just ask Siri or Alexa.

Big tech is betting everything on it. Government agencies are pouring billions into it. And we now have a situation where the ethical implications of AI are resonating with C-suites everywhere, as they wrestle with the consequences of:

    • Bias in AI and machine learning

    • Not preparing workers for the pivot to digital labor

    • Downplaying due diligence in AI development

    • Not prioritizing our governance of AI

    • Not using existing laws to regulate AI

If you can see trends coming, you can prepare for them. The thing is, trends are moving faster than ever before, and no organization can afford to get left behind.Here are four emerging trends that will shape the future of business and industry everywhere:

    • By 2020, a staggering 50% of searches will happen via voice

    • By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human

    • By 2021, virtual assistants will surpass the human population

    • By 2024, AI-enabled user interfaces and process automation will replace one-third of today's screen-based apps

The slogan for the age of digital transformation has been: Move fast and break things. So, the innovation spotlight is now on speed and agility.But in the future, experts say that slowing down to take stock of the ethical considerations of emerging technologies will be more important than ever.

"We've spent the last few decades learning how to move fast," says Greg Satell, author ofMapping Innovation, andCascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change."

"Over the next few decades we're going to have to relearn how to go slow again," says Satell. The digital age has been about agility and disruption. But it's time to think less about hackathons and more about tackling grand challenges.

Which brings us back to the AI and ethics debate. The amazing ability of AI to find patterns in massive amounts of data, classify images and transcribe speech will blow your mind. But big thinkers warn that unleashing AI without governance is a recipe for disaster.And the overwhelming majority of consumers agree.

Research shows that an eye-popping 8 in 10 Americans believe that AI should be carefully managed. And another 76% would not do business with a company that didn't feel the same way.

"I think it's important to understand that AI is everywhere," says AI expert and Computer Scientist Joanna Bryson.

"And the biggest challenges that we're facing right now are the political, economic and social consequences of how it affects us," says Bryson, one of the loudest voices in the call for better due diligence and governance of AI.

"We made this huge leap between 2007 and 2017 in AI capabilities," says Bryson, "because we had more data, and we got better at machine learning. In the long term, I think this will accelerate our rate of progress."

"But in the short term, I think the rate of acceleration is going to slow down somewhat. So, now is the best time to figure out how to integrate AI into our lives," says Bryson.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our five-part series on winning the future:AI Regulation Begins to Emerge.

In the meantime,click on the following links to learn more about the ethical implications of AI and intelligent automation: