One of the key speakers at the AI Summit in New York 1st December was Samantha Starmer from Ralph Lauren. However, she clarified from the beginning of the presentation, that the speech she was about to deliver, was from a customer-experience perspective, regardless of whether it’s screen-device, online, or offline – not related to Ralph Lauren.

Starmer started off by addressing how the sees the various definitions of AI, as less than helpful. “They all talk about learning intelligence, humans being more like humans, but what does that actually mean? Should we be scared?”, she said

Placing some of the blame for the confusion on the media, she explains how they have painted this picture of this technology as dangerous, saying how these myths about AI is spreading faster than the actual techonology is advancing. “If we’re not careful about getting caught up in these myths and these fears, then the true technology that can really help our society, ourselves and the customers, won’t get out there”, Starmer said.

“We need to help the human”, she emphasised, saying: “Cognitive systems like Watson were really meant to augment human intelligence, not to replace us, to work side-by-side with us, to be our tools”.

Starmer addressed the fact that many of us might find this technology intimidating, as we are being overloded with information, and we need to be augmented. She reminded the audience that we, as humans,  are actually used to this introduction of new technology, referring to the introduction of the wheel, the steam-engine and the micro-processor.

“That’s how we need to think about AI, as something that can augment us, it doesn’t replace us” – Samantha Starmer.

The future is coming, and in ten years we will live in a much more connected world by machines that will work in the background, giving us time to relax, Starmer said. “The future is actually here, and I think that’s where the myths and the fears come from. It is not coming in the future, it’s now and we need to be ready for it”.

She believes that in five years from now, many of the key industry players will wish they had been started thinking about their AI strategy earlier, saying that we are essentially on this “reversed cliff”, where the progress of technology has been moving along at a high pace.

Starmer listed 8 tips for AI experiences:

1: Focus on humans

2: Go beyond gimmicks

3: Think about services

4: Get off your butt

5: Tell the story

6: Don’t forget ethics

7: Stay flexible

8: Remember the big picture

“I don’t think that customer service entirely will be replaced by AI but we can use humans and our brains to satisfy the tougher nuanced details and take advantage of AI to prevent that lower-level customer service”, Starmer said to those concerned about whether or not AI will replace customer service completely in the future.

Referring to statistics from Gartner, Starmer said:“Gartner predicts that by 2020, the customer will manage 85 per cent of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human”. She believes it is essential that we focus on humans to keep us in control and designing technology that will benefit everyone.

“Think about what AI can do for you, how it can help you, and how it can help everyone is a great way of thinking about how it can positively impact you”, Starmer said, following up with: “AI is a game-changer for retail, entertainment, medicine, education, cities and war”.

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