Companies know that a high IQ can help drive business value. But the analyst outfit Forrester Research believes that if companies are going to successfully work side by side with artificially intelligent systems, they’re also going to need a high “RQ.”
RQ, or robotics quotient, is a measurement of how competent a company will be at automation and AI implementation. The Forrester assessment is based on three main areas: people, leadership and organizational structures. A fourth area, trust, will influence the three main categories and change depending on the type of technology being deployed.
J.P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst serving CIOs, described RQ as the “human contribution” companies need when deploying automation and AI technologies. “It’s not just about the bots; it’s not just about artificial intelligences,” he said in a July presentation at the New Tech and Innovation 2018 conference in Boston. “It’s about real people, real leaders and real organizational structures that you need to put in place to make sure you’re most likely to succeed.”
Automation and AI technologies are on a spectrum from more deterministic, where A always leads to B, to more probabilistic, where A could lead to B but could also lead to C or to D.
And these probabilistic systems create a new wrinkle for companies: No matter how swanky the user interface or how cutting-edge the technology, probabilistic systems can produce incorrect — and even illogical — results that can erode the trust humans have in the machine’s abilities.
Gownder pointed to IBM Watson as an example. During its Jeopardy! debut in 2011, Watson answered a final question about U.S. cities with “Toronto,” causing the audience to gasp. When researchers did a post-mortem, it became clear that even Watson doubted the response. Using probabilistic judgement, the machine determined that Toronto had only a 30% chance of being correct, but it was the best answer it could come up with at the time.
These “Toronto moments,” as Forrester now refers to them, “teach us something about the intersection between human beings and AI and the trust that is part of this,” Gownder said.
The more probabilistic a system is, the more human intervention it might need. But designing systems and processes that strike a balance between trust and intervention will be a challenging step for companies. That’s where Forrester believes RQ will come in handy.
What is RQ?
The robotics quotient is a self-assessment that “measures the ability of individuals and organizations to learn and adapt to and collaborate with automated entities,” Gownder said. It’s composed of 39 characteristics that Forrester regards as a collection of automation and AI best practices.
The higher the score, the more prepared a company is to tackle the new challenges that come with automation and AI technologies. But RQ doesn’t just measure readiness, according to Gownder. It also enables CIOs to “identify gaps or areas where you need to prioritize resources before you make a big bet on automation and AI,” he said.
The 39 characteristics fall into one of three categories — people, leadership and organizational structure. People, for example, are measured across different dimensions — such as facilitation, which considers how effective an employee might be at communicating with an automated entity, and perception, which includes things like basic digital literacy and “constructive ambition,” or an eagerness to learn.
For leaders, the RQ highlights vision, adaptability, the ability to inspire trust and influence. The final category refers to IT employees and beyond; CIOs will need to influence the C-suite and even the board of directors to secure the budget, buy-in and support that automation and AI tools can demand. “The CIO is no longer a benign dictator who has all the power,” Gownder said. “This is the creation of an ecosystem across business units with lots of participation from the workers themselves.”
Organizational structures will also need to adapt. Automation and AI may require new titles such as bot manager, new training and mentoring opportunities for humans and machines alike, new processes that encourage human-machine team creation, and new metrics. “After all, we can have all the good intentions, and the well-educated employees and the leaders who are on board,” Gownder said, “but if we do not create structures, processes and budgets — the b word — we’re going to have a hard time getting this through.”
Don’t forget about trust
The categories of people, leadership and the organization are then measured against one final category — trust. Gownder called trust “a multiplier in this model.” Automation and AI technologies exist on a spectrum from transparent to opaque, and where the technology falls on that spectrum will influence employee trust.
“If you’re implementing something that is very transparent, that is very deterministic, your employees will bring a high level of inherent trust to the machine. They’re used to these sorts of systems,” Gownder said. “If you’re using probabilistic systems, where the machine is often uncertain of its results, then you’re going to have a higher burden of RQ investment.”
Forrester’s model breaks down the complexity of trust by providing a numeric value for how deterministic the technology is, how transparent the technology is and how much change the technology could have on the workplace.
The changes that automation and AI will have on the workplace could be a sensitive area for leaders, especially as automation and AI instigate changes in the workforce. “As you might imagine, when employees are losing their jobs as part of a deployment of automation, you magnify the mistrust among remaining employees,” Gownder said. “It raises the bar for the change management.”
But the efforts could be worthwhile. As repetitive tasks become automated, job satisfaction generally goes up, Gownder said. And although AI remains in its early stages, it is poised to transform how companies operate and interact with customers.
Whether companies choose Forrester’s RQ method or not, Gownder argued that an organizational competency in AI and automation is needed.
“If you want to be successful in creating a mixed workforce that incorporates digital workers, human workers, lots of automated processes, lots of probabilities, lots of real-time data and AI, you’re going to have to measure your people, your leaders, your organization and the inherent trust that is associated with technology,” he said.
Factbox: How big is Bitcoin’s carbon footprint?
(Reuters) – Tesla boss Elon Musk’s sudden u-turn over accepting bitcoin to buy his electric vehicles has thrust the cryptocurrency’s energy usage into the headlights.
Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.
Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel”.
So how dirty is the virtual currency?
Unlike mainstream traditional currencies, bitcoin is virtual and not made from paper or plastic, or even metal. Bitcoin is virtual but power-hungry as it is created using high-powered computers around the globe.
At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.
Some bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices uses large amounts of energy too.
The world’s biggest cryptocurrency, which was once a fringe asset class, has become increasingly mainstream as it is accepted by more major U.S. companies and financial firms.
Greater demand, and higher prices, lead to more miners competing to solve puzzles in the fastest time to win coin, using increasingly powerful computers that need more energy.
Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that often relies on fossil fuels, particularly coal, the dirtiest of them all.
Bitcoin production is estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, or between the levels produced by Jordan and Sri Lanka, a 2019 study in scientific journal Joule found.
There are growing attempts in the cryptocurrency industry to mitigate the environmental harm of mining and the entrance of big corporations into the crypto market could boost incentives to produce “green bitcoin” using renewable energy.
Some sustainability experts say that companies could buy carbon credits to compensate for the impact.
And blockchain analysis firms say that it is possible in theory to track the source of bitcoin, raising the possibility that a premium could be charged for green bitcoin. Climate change policies by governments around the world might also help.
Projects from Canada to Siberia are striving for ways to wean bitcoin mining away from fossil fuels, such as using hydropower, or at least to reduce its carbon footprint, and make the currency more palatable to mainstream investors.
Some are attempting to repurpose the heat generated by the mining to serve agriculture, heating and other needs, while others are using power generated by flare gas – a by-product from oil extraction usually burned off – for crypto mining.
The dominance of Chinese miners and lack of motivation to swap cheap fossil fuels for more expensive renewables means there are few quick fixes to bitcoin’s emissions problem, some industry players and academics warn.
Chinese miners account for about 70% of production, data from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance shows. They tend to use renewable energy – mostly hydropower – during the rainy summer months, but fossil fuels – primarily coal – for the rest of the year.
(Writing by Alexander Smith: editing by Carmel Crimmins)
Image Credit: Reuters
Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance policy – sources
LONDON (Reuters) – Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance arranged by broker Aon, with Lloyd’s of London insurers AXA XL and Beazley among the underwriters, three sources told Reuters on Thursday.
Colonial Pipeline has begun to restart the nation’s largest fuel pipeline network after a ransomware attack shut the line, triggering fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern United States.
The cyberattack halted 2.5 million barrels per day of shipments of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel last Friday after the most disruptive cyberattack ever on U.S. energy infrastructure.
Insurance Insider reported the news late on Wednesday, saying the cover was for at least $15 million.
Cyber insurance typically covers ransom payments and insurers often provide staff to negotiate with the hackers, in addition to IT and public relations services.
Colonial Pipeline does not plan to pay the ransom, sources familiar with the company’s response told Reuters on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by David Evans)
Image Credit: Reuters
Foreign IT firms must open offices in Russia under new draft law – lawmaker
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Foreign technology companies will be forced to open offices in Russia or face penalties such as advertising bans under draft legislation, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday, in a fresh move by Moscow to exert greater control over Big Tech.
Russia is keen to strengthen control of the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries. It has imposed a punitive slowdown on social network Twitter over its failure to delete content Moscow says is illegal.
Apple, Facebook, TikTok and Alphabet’s Google are among other companies to have come under fire from Russian authorities.
The head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the draft legislation would be submitted as soon as possible to combat what he described as IT giants abusing their monopoly positions and distributing content banned in Russia.
“Our draft law would oblige owners of large information resources with a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people to open official offices, which would fully represent their interests and answer for their activities,” Alexander Khinshtein wrote on his Telegram channel.
Failure to do so could lead to companies being banned from advertising their services or hosting advertisements on their platforms. They could also be prohibited from collecting payments or personal data.
Officials say a package of more than 60 support measures is being discussed in government.
“It is important that all these measures in no way infringe the interests of Russian users, do not violate their ability to work with the resource, but create economic incentives for IT giants to observe our legislation,” said Khinshtein.
A law came into force in April obliging smart devices to offer Russian software upon activation.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Image Credit: Reuters
Italy fines Google for excluding Enel e-car app from Android Auto
MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s competition regulator has fined Google 102 million euros ($123 million) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by Enel from the U.S. tech giant’s Android system.
For more than two years, Google has not allowed Enel’s JuicePass to operate on Android Auto – a system that allows apps to be used safely in cars – unfairly curtailing its use while favouring Google Maps, the regulator said on Thursday.
“The contested behaviour can influence the development of e-mobility in a crucial phase … with possible negative spill-over effects on the growth of electric vehicles (EV),” it said.
In a statement announcing the fine for abuse of a dominant position, the regulator asked Google to make JuicePass available on Android Auto.
JuicePass is owned by Enel’s “e-solutions” subsidiary Enel X, which brought the case against Google. The app offers users services for finding and booking EV charging stations on maps and viewing details.
Google “respectfully disagrees” with the antitrust regulator’s decision and will examine the documents to decide its next steps, a spokesman for Google in Italy said.
Google’s priority for Android Auto is to ensure safety while driving, with stringent guidelines on which apps it supports, he said.
“There are thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to enable even more developers to make their apps available over time,” the spokesman said.
The regulator said the U.S. giant had a dominant position that allows it to control the access of app developers to final users through Android and its app store Google Play.
Enel acknowledged the decision, saying it was an important enabling factor for the growth of electric mobility in Italy.
“In accordance with this decision, a level playing field with Google apps will be granted for Enel X’s app, JuicePass, and in general for all recharging app developers,” it said.
($1 = 0.8264 euros)
(Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia and Elvira Pollina; Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Giulia Segreti and David Clarke)
Image Credit: Reuters
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