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Topics: Business Intelligence, Strategy
AI – Hype, Reality, Hyperbole or somewhere in-between
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As many have said, the subject of AI has come up regularly in our community, usually triggered by some new statistical article in a mainline publication. The project management context is understood, …. will AI greatly impact the role of the PM? The opinions within our community are diverse on this subject, which is great - as the discussions will eventually resolve to a consensus --- or not.

My contention is that the term "AI" is misused and the discussions regarding impact are premature from a practical standpoint. From a theoretical perspective, the discussion is fine, but when you read the articles and responses you get the sense that everyone views that "AI is here - now". I understand why this has happened as the "AI" term garners attention, funding and it sells product, so why not redefine or blur the lines.

I’m interested in your opinion on this subject. Do you see the marketing hype element of this conversation? Is it possible, that we all want AI to be true "so badly" that we join the chorus because it stimulates our dreams of the future? Or, am I alone or too extreme in my position?

Please provide your thoughts - I have put a commentary (below) that I recently made regarding AI to give more context to my opinion.

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AI has become a catch-all marketing term for any next-gen application that appears to be transformational. Marketers, columnists, writers, investors, etc. are using the term "AI," but if cornered, most would admit that what they are speaking to is actually "Weak AI " or "Machine/Deep Learning." If you examine these categories, you will then find that we are simply talking about evolved advanced algorithms that are analyzing data using models and patterns (e.g., statistical, historical), coming to a result through structured logic.

The advancements made in software engineering, sensors, RF communications, human to device interfaces, and the like are extraordinary; and the degree at which we see product generations churn is staggering. However, this is not happening because of AI - it’s happening because of hard-won engineering that has become componentized to the entrepreneurial masses.

When most individuals hear the term AI, they are thinking of what is called "Strong AI," which is essentially the point at which computers have the intelligence of humans - which does not exist. Bottom Line: I look forward to jumping on the "AI bandwagon," but I don’t see a wagon to jump on to at this point. So, Let’s keep ourselves grounded in the here and now and recognize (and even appreciate) this marketing barrage.
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I will talk about myself just to add some context that perhaps helps to direct someone to the basement. I worked in IA from 1989 including it I have presented a paper that was taken as a basement to create what today is called "blockchain" and I am still working now using the relation between IA and quantum computing. All these stuff includes a master degree on knwoledge engineering. With all that said I have to mention that is sad for me to see IA has become a buzzword. We are surrounded from IA devices (software and non software) from long time ago from refrigerators to cel phones. Which is the impact on project mangement? After working in lot of initiatives which includes IA I have said: none. Is like any other type of project/program you will lead.
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I completely agree that the term is misused, and to most, the impact to the PM is limited at this time. Part of that however is most don't envision how they would use AI as a PM tool.

I do however see some very powerful tools used in high tech areas that have a lot of potential. Credit card companies can quickly detect fraud patterns. Map programs can find the fastest route even taking traffic conditions into account. Health monitoring systems can predict equipment failures before they occur based on usage. Genetic algorithms can very rapidly optimize solutions and this is already applied to organizations.

I can see applications of these same types of AI solutions that could be applied to projects. I don't think they will replace highly abstract thinking, but computers are much more capable than people at objectively weighing many variables to find a best-fit solution.
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AIs can process vast amounts of data to produce a logical answer or best course of action, but that doesn't mean people will accept it. AIs will never replace Project Managers so long as human beings continue to be selfish, dishonest, lazy, etc. Until AIs can see through human lies and negotiate with multiple stubborn stakeholders, Project Managers' jobs aren't threatened.
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1 reply by Ashleigh Kennett-Smith
Jun 12, 2019 10:18 PM
Ashleigh Kennett-Smith
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Oh no - super humans !!! :)
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Jun 12, 2019 8:59 PM
Replying to Eric Simms
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AIs can process vast amounts of data to produce a logical answer or best course of action, but that doesn't mean people will accept it. AIs will never replace Project Managers so long as human beings continue to be selfish, dishonest, lazy, etc. Until AIs can see through human lies and negotiate with multiple stubborn stakeholders, Project Managers' jobs aren't threatened.
Oh no - super humans !!! :)
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I remember graduating from high school in the late 70s and looking at studying "cybernetics". Even back then, you could get a university degree in AI.
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AI is real and it will take over most of the repetitive tasks a PM do currently!



It can never replace a PM. ( On a lighter note, I need to revisit my statement by 2050 )
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Agree with Keith
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I accept the fact that the use of the word "Intelligence" (e.g., AI/IA) is here to stay in these realms of study/engineering, however, their portrayal is misleading. This opinion should not be taken in a way that lessens the value of these fields, as I have had a stake in this realm for nearly two decades, through the design of systems that manage the state of knowledge (e.g., adaptive object models) and the processing of it (e.g., rules engines). Although I categorize my work differently, I could practically say using todays lenient categories that my contributions flow into AI via the following: Knowledge Engineering – Expert Systems – AI.

I’m excited about the advancements being made, so let’s contribute but also recognize that the words "Intelligence" and "learning" are primarily theory-based terms and that no matter how we slice it up, we are still dealing with knowledge, patterns and algorithms.

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