AI, Analytics and the New Machine Age – Book Review

June 20, 2019 Peter Day

If you are new to the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Analytics and Machine Learning, then this book is a good place to jump into the arena and start learning. Most of the articles were written in the last two years, with five of them from 2018. The material is current enough to serve as a good starting point – though, if you read further into these subjects, you’ll quickly find that topics such as blockchain and AI are in a constant state of regeneration and flux.

The book,“On AI, Analytics and the New Machine Age,” by Harvard Business Review (2019), contains eleven articles covering a broad mix of topics, including:

• Using blockchain for business contracts
• How drones can deliver business value (and not just parcels)
• The use of augmented reality for safer safety training
• Why certain AI platforms will become dominant in the consumer space
• How AI will change business marketing
• And why algorithms need managers too

Several of the authors, while passionate about their topics, temper that passion with practical advice on the likely real-world impacts. For example, the authors of the blockchain article are bullish about the technology and its societal potential but estimate it will take decades to be realized. They draw a good parallel with the TCP/IP technology that ultimately made the structure of the Internet possible, though it was not an overnight phenomenon.

Microsoft uses AI and machine learning in the delivery of its services as well as offering AI functionality for purchase through its Azure products. By applying machine learning to the vast dataset of successful and unsuccessful logins to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) services, Microsoft offers Azure Advanced Threat Protection that can analyze a login attempt in real time. The algorithm then makes a decision whether to request further authentication information (such as asking security questions) if the login attempt raises red flags. In this way, an organization can automate the enhancement of security while keeping end users happy by only asking for added verification steps when necessary.
Within the Azure portfolio of offerings, Microsoft invites you to discover business uses of its AI services by signing up for a free account that includes a credit of $200 to get you started. The services on offer include image analysis, language translation, and an intelligent serverless bot service that scales on demand – you’ll find more details about the offer here.

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