Tag: AI

Limpopo clinic’s AI pilot shows promise

A pilot initiative implemented by Microsoft partner Mint Group and the Limpopo Department of Health (DoH) at the Rethabile Clinic, Polokwane, has proved the viability of intelligent healthcare at government clinics through the application of artificial intelligence.

With plans to transform 400 of Limpopo’s clinics into intelligent healthcare facilities, the DoH will address some of the challenges plaguing the Limpopo citizens that are reliant on the public healthcare system.

The Rethabile pilot, which started in May 2018 and concluded in May 2019, comprised the use of predictive analytics, operational intelligence and remote monitoring to manage 25 000 patients a month, enabling access control and queue management, intelligent appointment scheduling, medication dispensing, and inventory control.

The technologies also enabled attendance and performance tracking of healthcare staff to improve service delivery and avoid ghost staff, and provided in-depth data on patient loads, waiting times and queues. This data empowered the clinic to enhance staff allocation processes and digitise patient record keeping, with a holistic overview of patient care.

“The benefits realised at the Rethabile clinic were unlocked through the application of the Mint Vision App – a platform that extends organisations existing systems and processes with highly advanced computer vision as well as face-and-voice recognition functionality. The pilot has proved how Intelligent technology coupled with the right vision, can transform public healthcare facilities in South Africa,” stated Mint group head of artificial intelligence Peter Reid.

Reflecting on the Limpopo DoH’s vision for transformative healthcare the Deputy Director-General of Health Care Services, Limpopo Department, Dr MY Dombo, stated: “We are living in the 21st century, and public healthcare should be moving towards more efficient systems by embracing available technologies that can do just that.
My vision is to have a clinic in the cloud with seamless and wireless processes across Limpopo. This entails automatic patient verification upon arrival via facial recognition, which will eliminate any uncertainty regarding patient identity. Clinic staff should also know which patients are coming before they arrive to ensure a seamless treatment process. Lastly, all patient data should be stored in the cloud with all administrative processes digitised.
These initiatives will streamline patient care, ease the administrative burden of health workers, and enable better healthcare for all.”

Praising the Limpopo DOH’s forward-thinking initiatives and transformative vision, Mint Group CEO, Carel du Toit, stated that the Rethabile pilot proved the viability of intelligent healthcare in South Africa’s public sector and established the Limpopo DOH as a revolutionary leader, paving the way for improved patient experiences and service delivery to the citizens of South Africa.

Following a visit to the Rethabile clinic on May 28, 2019, Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba tweeted “We received an update on our electronic Q management system piloting from the team @Rethabile health center. Watch the space. It’s convincing this time around. There is light at the end of the tunnel. [The] Limpopo healthcare system will never be the same again once this project is done.”

So far the effects of artificial intelligence (AI) have been slow to reveal themselves in businesses in South Africa but the scale of the oncoming change is starting to become apparent overseas.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “AI’s influence is growing in the workplace and will bring substantial change to South African offices in the next few years as machine learning, task automation and robotics are increasingly used in business.”

The ability of computers to learn, rather than be programmed, puts a wide range of complex roles within reach of automation for the first time.

Bots and virtual assistants

As machine-learning trained systems gain the ability to understand speech and language, so the prospect of automated chatbots is becoming a reality.

One example is UK electronics retailer Dixons Carphone, which used the Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services to create a conversational bot.

Google demonstrated the potential of chatbots last year with its demo of its Duplex system. Duplex rang up businesses such as a restaurant and a hairdressers booking an appointment while sounding and behaving enough like a human.

“Household names are also muscling into the area of creating a virtual assistant for the enterprise space like Amazon’s Alexa for Business. With many AI-assisted technologies, the aim of using chatbots and virtual assistants appears to be either making existing employees more effective or replacing manual roles,“ noted Galloway-Gaul.

Workplace sensor technology and analytics

Huge amounts of data can now be collected from inexpensive sensors applied to smart decisions. For example, South African workplace sensing technology company MakeSense allows businesses to accurately assess just howmuch of their workplaces they actually use, likely saving a lot of money in the process.

It works by placing small sensors around the office which analyses peoples’ movement.

“Workspace occupancy sensing technology helps businesses understand how desks, meeting rooms and break out spaces are used in extraordinary detail. For example on average 40% of people don’t turn up to meetings so many meetings room are probably too big and are wasted space and cost.”

Machine vision in the workplace

Machine vision is an area of AI that could allow the automation of many manual roles that until recently would have been considered too complex for a computer system to handle.

A case is point is Amazon Go, a grocery store where shoppers just pick up what they want and walk out of the shop with their goods. The system works by using cameras dotted throughout the store to track what each shopper picks up. The shopper is charged when they leave, via an Amazon app on their smartphone.

Robots in the workplace

Robots are nothing new in the workplace, having been a fixture in car manufacturing plants for decades.

“But what’s different today is that robots are beginning to be used for less repetitive and predictable tasks. Robots can increasingly cope with a greater deal of uncertainty in their environment, broadening the tasks they can take on and opening the possibility of working more closely alongside humans.” Galloway-Gaul noted. Amazon again is leading the way in using robots to improve efficiency inside its warehouses. Its knee-high warehouse robots carry products to human pickers who select items to be sent out.

Robotic process automation

Back office tasks like data entry, accounting, human resources and supply-chain management are full of repetitive and semi-predictable tasks.

Increasingly, robotic process automation (RPA) software is used to capture the rules that govern how people process transactions, manipulate data and send data to and from computer systems, in an attempt to then use those rules to build an automated platform that can perform those roles.

“Change is therefore coming to all workspaces all around the world; the trick will be getting AI to help business grow and work well with humans,” Galloway-Gaul concludes.

By Noah Smith for The Star 

Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and one of the pioneers of the world wide web, once declared:

The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories. People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.

Andreessen has since repudiated this declaration, and taken a more optimistic stance. But economists, a more pessimistic bunch, are taking the possibility of this sort of bifurcated future more seriously. As machine-learning technology enjoys rapid progress, more top researchers are investigating the question of what work will look like in a world filled with computers that can replicate or surpass many of humanity’s own mental abilities.

This is different from the scenario where robots take people’s jobs outright and leave humanity obsolete. While some economists claim to find signs of automation-induced unemployment, the amount is still very small, if it even exists at all. With the labour market having reached pre-recession levels, worries that jobs will become permanently scarce have quieted.

But that doesn’t mean the jobs people have in the future will be good ones. For decades, some economists have fretted about what they call skill-biased technological change, or the possibility that new technologies will reward those smart or mentally flexible enough to master them, while devaluing the skills of everyone else.

As computerisation proceeded in the 1980s, and as inequality rose, some economists worried that skill-biased technological change might already be having a big effect. But they probably jumped the gun. A 2002 paper by labour economists David Card and John DiNardo observed that wage inequality stopped rising in the 1990s, even as computerisation accelerated. The authors also noted that the 1980s saw a diminution of the gender wage gap, despite the fact that women were less likely to have computer-intensive jobs.

But just because skill-biased technological change doesn’t explain the 1980s doesn’t mean it will never happen. In 2010, labour economist David Autor warned that routine tasks – jobs like assembly-line manufacturing or traditional office work – were being automated. These jobs use a lot of brain power, but in a predictable, repetitive way – exactly the kind of thing that computers can do better than humans. Autor found that his measures of routine task input were declining decade by decade:

It’s also possible that the “people who tell computers what to do”, and who therefore reap the benefits of the machine age, will not be workers, but business owners. Some economists believe that cheap technology is causing labour’s share of global income to decline. A recent study by Autor and co-author Anna Salomons finds that since the 1970s, industries with faster productivity growth, international patenting and robot adoption have all seen labour lose out to capital. That’s not a slam-dunk case – there are other reasons these factors could be hurting workers, and the rise of capital income could be mostly due to other forces. But this research raises the disturbing possibility that automation will lead to the final victory of capital over labour.

Now the worries about automation-induced inequality have increased, thanks to the stunning rise of machine learning. Since 2013, there has been a surge of interest in this new technology, which allows computers to do tasks like image and speech recognition that were previously the sole province of human brains:

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs and big businesses alike are dreaming of ways to use machine learning to replace a vast array of human tasks, from driving trucks to preparing food. Venture capitalists are pouring money into machine learning startups – often known by the trendy if inaccurate buzzword of “artificial intelligence”:

Economists, true to form as the dismal scientists, are concerned. If machine learning automates away low-skilled tasks, as some predict, it might not make working-class people obsolete, but it could make their existence miserable nonetheless. It’s possible to imagine a future where lower-skilled people are constantly seeing their jobs get gobbled up by machines, forcing them to always be transitioning to new tasks – perpetually seeking a niche that hasn’t yet been devoured by ingenious entrepreneurs and their subservient robots, even as wages diminish. That scenario doesn’t necessarily involve high unemployment, but it’s hellish enough that it should worry people.

So what can be done to avert this future? The popular ideas include universal basic income, a federal job guarantee and subsidies for the employment of human workers. These are all ideas worth trying out on a modest scale, to see if they work; even if machine learning isn’t the threat some fear, they could be very helpful in reducing inequality.

Another idea is a social wealth fund – a government-managed fund or collection of funds that would use tax revenue to purchase shares in companies and distribute the dividends to citizens. A social wealth fund would create a true ownership society, insuring the working populace against the rise of the robots by allowing each person to own a piece of those robots’ output. Ultimately, this seems like the simplest and most elegant solution.

By Daniel Cooper for Engadget

Problematic transportation outfit Uber is thinking about a way to use your phone to determine if you’ve been drinking. A patent application was uncovered by CNN, entitled “Predicting user state using machine learning,” which outlines the general idea. Essentially, by watching how you behave day-to-day, the system can pick up when your behavior is normal (for you) or abnormal. That could be, for instance, how you use your phone, the angle at which you hold it, and even how you’re walking.

Obviously there are some common sense elements to this, too, especially if you’re requesting a ride in the small hours from a notorious night spot. The thinking is that drivers will be fed this information ahead of you boarding the vehicle to better prepare them for what’s coming. A cynical reading of the plans could mean that drivers choose not to pick up a ride from a drunk passenger to avoid trouble. That would likely mean they’re left fending for themselves or, worse still, choose to drive themselves instead.

Of course, patent applications are mostly the province of companies wealthy enough to devote such time to dreaming up new ideas. Wacky concepts and ideas are patented all the time in the hope that, in years to come, they prove to be both useful and profitable. There’s no indication that this system is going to pop up in Uber’s customer-facing app in the near future, although it certainly could do.

Robots, AI and other office tech problems

Workplaces the world over are changing rapidly, thanks to the way we prefer to work, social changes and technological advances.

According to Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, seldom has so much change come at once to the workplace as it has this year. These are the more significant trends that will continue to dominate the conversation around work in 2018.

Unequal pay
South Africa is ranked 19 in a global index report on gender inequality released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) late last year. The report finds that while South Africa has improved its share of women legislators, senior officials and managers, the gender wage gap in the country has increased. In recent years, women have made significant progress towards equality in a number of areas such as education and health, with the Nordic countries leading the way.

But the global trend now seems to have made a U-turn, especially in workplaces, where full gender equality is not expected to materialise until 2234 according to WEF.

“This is a hot topic the world over,” says Andrews. “And until there is fairness, wage gaps will continue to be scrutinised. Closing the wage gap could add millions to the economy and uplift so many people’s lives.”

Andrews noted that he expects more countries around the world to follow in the steps the UK took last year in making it a legal requirement for companies with more than 250 employees to declare the gender wage gap.

Workplace harassment
Last year there was a lot of news of workers coming forward to tell their stories of discrimination and harassment at the hands of those in power.
In light of these developments, employees expect their leaders to rest their values and workplace policies.
“We need to ask what can we do about it?
“It starts by taking a more responsible approach to leadership and continues with a concerted effort to change the way organisations monitor employee interaction throughout the company.”
Andrews noted that leaders need to “move beyond check-the-box engagement metrics to dig in and do deeper work developing transparent cultures. In short, ‘see something, say something’.”

Generation inclusion
“Generation Z’s university graduates are entering the workforce full-time, changing the fabric of the workforce,” says Andrews.
“Gen Z came of age during the 2008 economic crisis, and many within the generation are more interested in job stability than their millennial peers, who have gained a job-hopper reputation.Employers should be thinking about fostering growth opportunities rather than simply looking to pay them more to keep them loyal.”

Mixed generational management will be at the top and throughout organisations, with Gen X and millennials leading, while boomers and traditionalists migrate to project and consultative contractor roles, Andrews noted.

The necessity for employers to offer their staff a palette of places, presence and postures, thereby giving complete choice and control over where and how they work, has never been greater than it is now.

“Older millennials are entering the C-Suite, and they will be asking boomers to help them as advisers, coaches, or mentors,” he adds.

Flexible, remote and freelance work
Globally, the importance of flexible work for both the already-employed and for job seekers can’t be understated.
“In addition, telecommuting and working from home is on the rise too,” says Andrews. “Not only will more companies invest in remote workers, but those who require workers on site will do everything possible to make work feel like home. Developers will adapt with mixed-use developments that bring workers closer to the office.”

Andrews noted that Inspiration Office has changed its furniture offering in the past few years along with these trends to meet the demand for more comfortable, less formal office spaces at rates that don’t break the bank.

There is also a rapid rise in the freelance workforce in South Africa and around the world. In the US for instance, the freelance is growing more than three times faster than the U.S. workforce overall. The number of U.S. freelancers now stands at 57.3 million, representing an 8.1% jump over the last three years.

Robots and AI
A recent report on the future of work from McKinsey noted that as many as 375m workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills, because in about 60% of jobs, at least one-third of the work can be automated.

“It isn’t cause for alarm just yet,” Andrews noted. “Only 5% of jobs can be completely eliminated by automation. But it does mean that workers need to be prepared to make a change by learning new skills and constantly adapting.”

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes part of even more technologies from Amazon’s Alexa to smart home devices and cloud computing platforms, demand for workers skilled in artificial intelligence will rise.

The “humAIns” are coming

By Sudipto Ghosh for MarTechSeries

According to the latest Accenture report on the future of workplace collaborations, businesses that manage to balance human ingenuity with machine intelligence will be successful. Released just ahead of the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, Accenture’s AI report takes a positive stance on the need to grow investments into AI and Human-Machine collaboration over the next five years.

So, what can we expect at such a ‘modern’ workplace?

Let’s call the new professionals that you could be hiring and collaborating with, by 2022 “the humAIns”.

Who are humAIns?

HumAIns are machine-driven, human-centric workplace assistants that demonstrate the highest ability to deliver “Live” customer experiences. No biases, even with millions of insights to deal with from historical data, the HumAIns will boost three aspects of any business:

  • Increase revenues
  • Maximise profits
  • Guarantee human employment with respectable salaries

According to the Accenture report on AI-Human collaboration, the HumAIns could boost revenues by 38% and grow employment opportunities by 10 percent between 2018 and 2022.

The convergence of AI and the human race within economic circles
The HumAIns (no more a hypothesis), would propel the adoption of technology across industries. The economic fields of study for AI would expand further into these five categories:

  • Deep Learning: Synchronous group of machines running on powerful algorithms led by a human expert.
  • Robotization: Machines take over humans, freeing the creative minds to focus on refining business strategies.
  • Dematerialization: Voice search, intelligent assistants, automatic streaming tools, and contactless payment solutions.
  • In-app Workforce; Employees share their availability and managers delegate tasks via apps, also part of Gig economy and crowd-working.
  • Autonomous Operations: Driving tech, sensor technologies, IoT, and drones powered by AR/VR, turning into the norm.

Humanisation of technology

Almost all first-world countries are prepared for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. For example, the Netherlands became the first country to set up a nationwide internet of things network. With this move, The Netherlands has enabled the connection of more intelligent devices than it has inhabitants.

“Go digital. Use VR, AR and Al to accelerate the speed and scale of effective training.” – Accenture, Reworking The Revolution

While the cost of employment is a chief reason why developed countries are seeking smarter technologies to replace humans, growing economies like India, China, and Bangladesh still benefit from the availability of low-cost, medium-skilled workers in all industrial sectors.

As all countries grow in terms of industrial parity, employment standards would also incline majorly towards robotization, automation, and dematerialization. This opens up a new horizon for HumAIns to make their presence felt.

HumAIns would hire people for their skills and not for their personal choices. The intelligent assistants would manage the entire value chain of man, machine, material, money, and to an extent, mind too.

The Darker Side: HumAIns Crack the Whip on ‘Dark’ Data Science

Most businesses have a sense of what Big Data is. But analyzing ‘unstructured’ data is still a mystery (something with no label of what data-type it is, or what family it belongs to — not even the source)! HumAIns, taking a cue from the Apple-Lattice Data amalgamation, or from the newest in the market, Vyasa Analytics, could enable the machine’s “cortex” to ask pertinent questions on the ‘Who-What-Where-When-How’ in analyzing Dark Data.

For HumAIns, the power of collaborative analytics in Dark Data would open new fields of opportunities across the verticals and horizontals in business. A large part of that would benefit how CMOs zero in on their tech stack.

HumAIns in B2B Technology: A Cool Angle to Working with Machines

HumAIns would erase the need for having human supervision for the common marketing activities, that mostly deal with interactions and problem-solving at all stages of operations. The activities are:

  • Customer Targeting and Retargeting
  • Media Buying
  • Cross-channel Marketing Executions
  • Testing, Optimization, and Personalization
  • Analytics and Insights

For a CMO working with a HumAIn, the foreseeable benefits could include:

  • Savings in time, money, and human resources
  • Unbiased collaboration 24/7/365
  • More accurate, quicker, and justifiable investment decisions
  • Competitive intelligence with clear focus on revenue acceleration
  • Uncompromising and unending repository of intelligence and measurable emotion into marketing and advertising
  • Delightful customer experiences with the highest return on personalization
  • Higher-value in problem-solving with real-time historical references to common challenges in marketing

Will AI take away jobs? Certainly not, if you know how to collaborate with the HumAIns. Trusting what Accenture report suggests, “Foster a new leadership DNA. Cultivate leaders at all levels to help pivot the workforce to new growth models.” What part of that DNA would match up to HumAIns? Interesting thought, isn’t it?

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