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Can AI Give Your Company a Strategic Advantage?

“After many years of promise and hype, artificial intelligence is now being applied to activities that not long ago were viewed as the exclusive domain of humans,” writes Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

“It wasn’t all that long ago that we were wowed by Watson, Siri, and self-driving cars.  But it’s getting harder for our smart machines to truly impress us.  Earlier this year Google’s AlphaGo won a match against one of the world’s top Go players.  Go is a very complex game, for which there are more possible board positions than there are particles in the universe.  Yet, we seem to be taking AlphaGo’s impressive achievement in stride.”

“’Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,’ is one of the most memorable quotes of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.  But, as we better understand its promise and limitations, technology becomes just another tool we rely on in our work and daily life.  With familiarity, the romance begins to fade, – as was the case with electricity, cars, airplanes and TV in the early decades of the 20th century, and as has been the case more recently with computers, the Internet, and, – increasingly now, – with AI.”

“Digital technologies are all around us.  But, are they a major source of competitive differentiation?  Are they a strategic value to business?  Can they help increase innovation and productivity and drive long term growth?  These questions have no easy answers, as we have learned over the years.

A new Harvard Business Review article, “Designing the Machines that Will Design Strategy” by Martin Reeves and Daichi Ueda, takes these questions a few steps further. 

Given that our advanced AI technologies can now play championship-level Go and assist in the diagnosis and treatment of rare forms of cancer, – can they help us address broad, open-ended and ambiguous problems like developing and executing a competitive business strategy?  Can our increasingly smart machines assist us in translating technological advances into strategic advantage?”