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Artificial intelligence in the enterprise: It's judgment day

Artificial intelligence in the enterprise isn't some far-off science-fiction film fantasy: It's already here, and it's time for CIOs to judge its business applications.

Paging Arnold Schwarzenegger: The robots are coming! All right, we're not quite in Terminator territory yet. But...

artificial intelligence (AI) isn't some science-fiction film fantasy: It's already here, in the enterprise, with some forward-looking organizations using smart machines, robots and other such technologies to ratchet up efficiencies and provide better service to internal and external customers.

In this month's issue of CIO Decisions, SearchCIO Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski explores the modern landscape for AI technologies, which are programmed to do tasks that humans would otherwise undertake. At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, machine-learning algorithms buried into workflow processes have been introduced to the emergency room to help medical staff better capture patients' "chief complaints" when they arrive at the ER.

"Being able to capture chest pain as a discreet entity can be very valuable downstream for clinical care and in launching things like order sets and clinical pathways," says Steven Horng, an emergency physician and computer programmer at the hospital. "The struggle has always been in how to collect this type of structured data when humans want to be explicit and do their own thing."

Horng says that while some people peg AI as a way for a computer to diagnose patients or replace human physicians, "it's really about augmenting the physician so that you use the computer as a tool rather than a replacement." Along the AI way, the hospital is developing new data science techniques, running agile experiments and relying on a flexible architecture.

Also in this issue, we feature a Q&A with Igor Elbert, a data scientist at Gilt Groupe, who explains why pre-emptive shipping is serving as fertile ground for a data science experiment at the high-end retailer; CIO expert Harvey Koeppel tells the story of when his disaster response strategy collided with real life-or-death stakes; and we look at whether organizations exploring the Internet of Things might want to give mesh computing a try.

Given this tilt toward a new breed of emerging technologies, one certainly hopes Terminator's Judgment Day isn't imminent. But it is time for CIOs to start judging AI for themselves and reaping its rewards in the enterprise.

Please write to me at [email protected].

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