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Top 10 artificial intelligence stories of 2020

AI has moved beyond a tool for web giants and internet startups to something mainstream businesses should take seriously

If there is one message that has resonated this year, it has been that organisations must ramp up innovation. This is not necessarily about doing something that is radically new.

Under normal circumstances, inefficient business processes are not given a priority, since people can simply fill in the bits of the process that are not working optimally.

But the lockdown changed working practices for millions of people, and office workers were unable to go into their usual place of work. Inefficient manual processes that relied on people to do the work IT is supposed to streamline needed to be automated.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend to automate business processes and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to discover new data insights. This trend is likely to continue throughtout 2021 as organisations strive to use AI to tackle the “low-hanging fruit” of inefficient processes where intelligent automation can deliver rapid business benefits. Here are Computer Weekly's top 10 artificial intelligence stories of 2020:

1. How AI is helping to drive business process optimisation

Automating an inefficient process simply leads to a faster inefficient process. Artificial intelligence needs to be deployed to ensure business processes are optimal.

2. Build 2020: Avoiding AI problems

It is early days for responsible artificial intelligence, but Microsoft aims to help companies avoid problems and improve the performance and quality of AI applications.

3. An IT business boost in spite of spending review forecast

If there is something a CIO could do to enable the business to increase its earnings by 5%, everyone would listen. Research from McKinsey links AI to business earnings.

4. Fix bottlenecks before tackling business process automation

Business processes evolve over time, and intelligent automation requires a thorough assessment of what is not working optimally.

5. Cobots: From Robbie to Armar-6

In science fiction, robots work alongside people. Ocado Technology recently unveiled Armar-6, a robot that takes this concept a step closer to reality.

6. Adding intelligence to business process automation

AI is used to find hidden meaning in large datasets. What if an AI system could truly understand an end-to-end business process. What if an AI system could optimise a business process autonomously?

7. It’s good to chat, but who to? The role of chatbots in digital transformation

AI-powered chatbots and smart agents are being used to improve customer experience, but they can have an important role to play in internal digital transformation projects too.

8. Five steps to build an artificial intelligence strategy

Artificial intelligence is the next frontier for IT in businesses, helping to increase competitive advantage. A truly successful AI strategy needs careful planning.

9. Opening up new AI applications

Opening up and demystifying artificial intelligence and machine learning is the best way to overcome perceptions that AI is a threat to people’s jobs.

10. Data reveals lack of ethics in decision making systems

A recent survey from price comparison site, comparethemarket.com, has highlighted the subtext, which obscures a host of unfair assumptions made in the depths of computer systems.

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