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This content is part of the Conference Coverage: MIT CIO 2018 videos: Honing a digital leadership strategy
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Emerging IT trends: 'Massive availability of data,' AI decision-making

Emerging IT trends were front and center at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium -- everything from blockchain and hybrid IT to platform business models, cloud computing and all things AI.

In an on-site video interview, Wolfgang Bauriedel, executive director at search firm Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., highlighted some of the emerging IT trends he believes will transform the enterprise in the coming years. According to Bauriedel, AI and the increasing availability of high-quality data will change the human-machine interface at organizations, helping to build an ecosystem that blurs the traditional boundaries of an organization.

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What emerging IT trends will transform the enterprise in the coming years, and how?

Wolfgang Bauriedel: I see largely two trends that are interacting with each other. The first one would be that massive availability of data; data that is commonly accessible and that has a much higher quality than we have now. The second one is the decision-making on top of the data with AI and machine learning. How will it change? Humans in the current workforce in organizations will have incredible tools to make better decisions and to do tasks that machines are much better able to do with more precision.

As an example, when you look at claims adjudication in insurance, there are now AI tools available that, with a 95% certainty, will tell you after you send in a picture of your demolished car, if it is still worth fixing or if it's a total loss. This can be done in a very short amount of time. We've heard stories about getting legal insights out of nondisclosure agreements in a very short amount of time with AI machines. It frees up individuals to focus on the more value-adding activities and will, therefore, dramatically change the human-machine interface. It will become much more natural and, to some degree, we won't even be able to distinguish if we're talking to somebody who is a machine or a person.

The last implication of that is that the boundary of an organization is much more blurry: What is in, what is out? In order to achieve this, you need to build and work with an ecosystem. It's not that important anymore if somebody has a company badge or if somebody is working with a trusted partner. That boundary is floating. People will go in and out and make use of those machine tools.

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What IT trends do you think will disrupt the enterprise in the coming years?
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To compete globally, there is an definite desire to drastically reduce the human work force and replace with robotics as much as possible.  That may be good because it frees humans to do better things if the rote is done for them.
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I wish people would not use the current buzz words like AI, because in reality, intelligence can never be artificial.  The intelligence in a computer comes from the intelligence of the programmer, who simply anticipates and programs the decision making mechanism ahead of time.  Buzz words like Machine Learning make people think the computer is sentient and making new solution on the fly, when in reality all the possible choices have to be pre-programmed by a human, and the only change in decision making is statistical data drive correlations with previous success when trained by a human.  
The example of computers dictating when a car should be totaled based on an image, is very low level of confidence because these days they scrap even the slightest of damage.  Almost any accident damage actually is not that hard to fix, even with a bent unibody.  But like with health care, it has become more profitable to increase accident repair costs, because then insurance becomes more necessary.  AI is not helping actually, but is instead decreasing human detail and making decision making more distant and inappropriate.
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