Kathryn Rose, left, and Jess Kelly with Oaks of Kingwood Apartments heard first-hand about AI from Dr. Anshu Shrivastava, center.

Artificial intelligence – AI for those in the technological know – gets a bad rap and Anshumali (Anshu) Shrivastava came to the Lake Houston Chamber’s October luncheon to clear the air and tell business leaders how AI is changing their business landscape.

“The best way I can describe artificial intelligence is to use the example of self-driving cars,” Shrivastava said at the Oct. 29 meeting at the Clubs of Kingwood. “When you’re driving, there’s lots to think about. The cars in front, behind and next to you, for example. And driving on the highway is certainly different than driving on a busy city street.”

– Rice professor outlines how AI can make business better –

The key to AI success, the Rice professor said, is data. Lots and lots of data.

“Think of it this way,” he explained. “If I wanted to learn how to drive, I could sit next to you while you drove and observe what you’re doing. That’s what we do with artificial intelligence, human-like learning, except that AI isn’t watching one person drive but millions and millions.”

Give AI enough situations of how to change lanes modeled on how a human does it and artificial intelligence will figure it out, Shrivastava said.

Rice University Professor Dr. Anshu Shrivastava (third from left) assured Lake Houston Chamber members that artificial intelligence is a good thing, including (from left) Chamber President Jenna Armstrong, Chamber Chair Sam Schrade and Chamber Executive Vice President Chris O’Dell. Photos by Tom Broad

Shrivastava is an expert in AI and machine learning and one of the Top 10 scientists under age 40, according to Science magazine. His research has been featured in the New York Times and he is a recipient of awards from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Amazon. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Cornell University.

Businesses, he said, have already figured out how to use AI to increase customer experience and employee productivity. Shrivastava outlined steps businesses can take to use AI to their business advantage.

“Start investing in solid data generation, collection and management pipelines,” Shrivastava said. “It can be as simple as keeping well-formatted records of every aspect of your business. Frankly, the quality of your AI is directly dependent on the quality of your data.”

Two examples illustrate how AI has already revolutionized businesses and customer relations.

Chamber Chair Sam Schrade detailed the email he and his wife received as they deplaned on Southwest Airlines recently, apologizing for the condition of her luggage which they discovered had been crushed.

“By the time we got to our baggage, they had a check cut and an apology,” Schrade said, “all thanks to AI.”

Chick-fil-A has mastered AI technology to specify what kind and how many sandwiches should be cooked and ready to go based on the time of day and the day of the week, according to Erica Johnston, now the community liaison for Including Kids Autism Center who, along with husband Duane, owns the Wilson Road/Fall Creek Chick-fil-A.

“AI already is used by many industries and it will revolutionize your decision making,” Srivastava said. “Start investing in data collection. Experimentation is the key to making AI work for you.”

Business leaders peppered Shrivastava with questions: When can I trust AI to do the correct job? With AI making all the decisions, will humans forget how to make decisions? With AI, what will the world look like in five or 10 years?

His answers? Test your AI until you feel that it’s doing the job correctly. And keep feeding it data. Rather than doing the work, humans will become managers, managing the AI process in their business. In five years, every home will be filled with sensors controlling, with our command, all kinds of home-type jobs. Predicting the AI landscape in 10 years, however, is impossible to forecast.

At the conclusion of the luncheon, Chamber President Jenna Armstrong introduced four new chamber staffers, Jennifer Cantave, investment developer; Damita Roberts, events coordinator; Cindy Dixon, communications and marketing coordinator; and Carol Posten, sponsorship development director.

The November luncheon, State of Healthcare, will be held Tuesday, Nov.19, at 11:30 a.m. at The Golf Club of Houston. The luncheon will feature John Corbeil, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood, discussing the need for services, new challenges and a look ahead to the future of health care, and Freddie Warner, chief government relations officer at Memorial Hermann Health System, discussing legislative issues and how they impact the state of health care. To register, visit lakehouston.org.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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