‘The Beginning of a Wave’: A.I. Tiptoes Into the Workplace

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The bots are mainly observing, following simple rules and making yes-or-no decisions, not making higher-level choices that require judgment and experience. “This is the least intelligent form of A.I.,” said Thomas Davenport, a professor of information technology and management at Babson College.

But all the signs point to much more to come. Big tech companies like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are starting to enter the business, often in partnership with robotic automation start-ups. Two of the leading start-ups, UiPath and Automation Anywhere, are already valued at more than $1 billion. The market for the robotlike software will nearly triple by 2021, by one forecast.

“This is the beginning of a wave of A.I. technologies that will proliferate across the economy in the next decade,” said Rich Wong, a general partner at Accel, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and an investor in UiPath.

The emerging field has a klutzy name, “robotic process automation.” The programs — often called bots — fit into the broad definition of artificial intelligence because they use ingredients of A.I. technology, like computer vision, to do simple chores.

For many businesses, that is plenty. Nearly 60 percent of the companies with more than $1 billion in revenue have at least pilot programs underway using robotic automation, according to research from McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm.

 

Full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/05/technology/

 

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