When people think of Artificial Intelligence, they tend to recall the most spectacular examples. How IBM's Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov in chess, for example. Or, how Google's Alpha Go defeated world Go champion Ke Jie. Go is supposed to be the most complicated game and far more complex than chess, but the machine trumped man comprehensively. Worse, Google has just released the news that its AI has developed to a stage where it no longer needs human instructions to learn how to play. Its Go-playing AI is now capable of learning by playing thousands of games with itself and needs no human inputs to learn how to win.
But while these are news-grabbing examples, the real AI revolution is taking place elsewhere. Dozens of companies in all sorts of businesses are using AI to do better work, cut flab, reduce risks and generally change how business is done. A lender of farm equipment finance is using AI to go through loan applications and predict those most likely to default. Several firms are using AI programmes to sift through candidate profiles to shortlist only the few who are the best fits. A prominent hospital is using AI for second opinion on its radiology diagnoses. A start-up is using a programme to tell the difference between a hostile broker and a genuine customer looking to rent houses. Even companies that have been slow to adopt the power of AI are using self-learning bots to answer simple customer queries and provide the first level of interface and free up humans for more value-added work.
Our cover story this issue looks at companies that have smartly deployed AI to gain a competitive edge in their sectors.
In this issue, we also look at how CEO Satya Nadella is rebooting Microsoft and his plans for the future. He has bet heavily on three technology trends and it remains to be seen how they will play out for Microsoft in the long run. Another in-depth story in this issue is a rigorous analysis of steel king Sajjan Jindal's current businesses and future plans. Jindal has specialised in taking over loss-making companies and turning them around. But now he is taking bigger bets than ever before even while his debt piles up. Is he biting off more than he can chew?
That's not all. As you would notice, we have completely redesigned and revamped your favourite business magazine and added many new sections. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did in putting it together.