To help its service technicians more efficiently repair and maintain its models, Mercedes-Benz USA is outfitting all of its authorized American dealerships with HoloLens 2 headsets. The devices are equipped with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, a mixed reality app that that lets users collaborate during hands-free video calls from their own computers.

Organizations have long known the importance of business resiliency, but becoming resilient requires time and preparation, and the pandemic has forced many organizations to evolve at a pace few could have imagined.  To recover and thrive within this new context presents new challenges. That is why we are partnering with customers to support faster adoption of digital capabilities. We see firsthand the incredible strides they are making to be agile, efficient, and responsible in their operations to deliver long-term value and mitigate the effects of future disruptions.  At Microsoft Ignite, our CEO Satya Nadella spoke about how digital tech intensity is the key to business resilience and transformation.  I also spoke with several customers about their incredible digital transformation efforts, including Shell, Land O’Lakes, BNY Mellon, Unilever, and NHS Digital.

A mountain stream

Microsoft is one of nine companies that established a new initiative in July to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy — Transform to Net Zero — aimed at developing and delivering research, guidance and implementable roadmaps to enable all businesses to achieve net zero emissions.

Through new initiatives and strategic partnerships, we are working with our customers to significantly shape the future using digital innovation and efforts aimed at promoting the world’s energy transition. Recently, for example, we launched Transform to Net Zero, a new initiative alongside industry leaders that delivers guidance and business plans to help the private sector transition to a net zero global economy. We are also helping organizations meet their carbon reduction goals while addressing pressing customer expectations around sustainability. Our recent news with bp aims to help the company develop new technology innovations and digital solutions built on our cloud to reduce energy use and carbon emissions, and our work with Shell aims to create and deliver new solutions to help customers, suppliers and other businesses lower emissions.

Woman interacts with a tablet computer while sitting in a car

Standard Chartered Bank is accelerating its digital transformation through a cloud-first strategy to make its vision for virtual banking, next-generation payments, open banking and banking-as-a-service a reality.

In financial services, our customers are focused on enhancing customer experiences by building friction-less, always on, agile digital solutions leveraging our cloud.  Our collaboration with Mastercard will accelerate the development of emerging technologies aimed at helping its partners build and securely scale new solutions to drive financial security and sustainable growth.  Morgan Stanley Capital International is delivering new capabilities to help investors quickly and efficiently manage data to gain intelligent insights on risk and performance drivers leveraging Azure Data Services. In the U.K., Finastra is bringing even more mission-critical solutions to the cloud for its customers and Refinitiv is helping financial firms collaborate and unlock the power of their data and insights.  National Australia Bank is accelerating its cloud innovation to create compelling customer experiences, and in Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank is taking a cloud-first approach to make banking more accessible across its network. In addition, we are partnering with Germany-based Munich RE to store and leverage insured population data for risk management and product development using Azure Cosmos DB in a way that meets regulatory and compliance requirements.

View of Australia city lights from space at night

Telstra is focused on accelerating the development and release of innovative and sustainable cloud-based solutions across multiple industries, driving efficiency, amplifying decision-making capability and enhancing customer experiences.

In telecommunications, data-driven solutions are advancing innovation, amplifying decision-making capability, and enhancing customer experiences.  AT&T recently unveiled a fast and highly secure Internet of Things (IoT) solution built on AT&T’s global cellular network and Azure Sphere to help businesses connect machines and equipment to the cloud, bypassing the need for public internet.  Following our expanded partnership with Australia-based Telstra, citizen developers have automated manual processes with Power Apps in Microsoft Teams, helping improve customer service and the company’s financial performance. In addition, we launched the “SKT 5GX Cloud Game” powered by Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with SK Telecom — making Korea the first Asian market to offer Xbox’s cloud gaming service. To help small businesses thrive, T-Mobile is launching new rate plans with Microsoft 365 productivity tools included at no additional charge so they can help customers navigate the new realities of a remote world. We are also working with Lumen (formerly CenturyLink), which quickly adopted Azure Active Directory amid the pandemic, to enable secure remote access for its global workforce. At our Azure for Operators event, we announced our close collaboration with the telecommunications industry to help operators quickly leverage the potential of 5G for greater resiliency and cost efficiency while driving new services and business models.  We also joined the 5G Innovation Lab to provide engineering and technology resources to help entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market new innovation.

Entrance to a court house

New Jersey Courts makes the case for virtual proceedings with Microsoft Teams and provides vital legal services during COVID-19.

The pandemic has also encouraged many public sector organizations to digitally transform at speed. The Georgia Office of the State Treasurer kept critical state services operating through highly secure remote work solutions using Microsoft 365, Windows Virtual Desktop and Surface devices. Following a statewide stay-at-home-order, the New Jersey Courts shifted its entire workforce across 15 jurisdictions to remote work while serving more than 300,000 members of the public in over 36,000 virtual legal proceedings using Surface and Teams.  Academic institutions are also choosing Microsoft as their trusted cloud partner to become more agile in delivering remote learning and research capabilities.  In the U.K., the University of Nottingham found a scalable, long-term solution for researchers and engineering students to continue learning with Microsoft 365, Teams and Windows Virtual Desktop; Durham University found a simple yet secure way for staff and students to access on-premises applications using Azure Active Directory; and the Saudi Ministry of Education has rolled out distance education in record time using a national platform linked to Microsoft 365 and fully hosted on Azure.  Hospitals are using mixed reality and artificial intelligence (AI) to treat patients safely, including Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, the first in Quebec designated to treat COVID-19 patients.  When doctors needed to minimize contact with patients and preserve limited personal protective equipment, they turned to Microsoft’s HoloLens for a setup that includes Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Microsoft Teams, allowing a single doctor to visit a patient while the full healthcare team participated from a separate room.

We continue to see inspiring stories that solve for very real problems outside of the pandemic itself.  The European Parliament is bringing the democratic process closer to citizens by ensuring debates are accessible to everyone, leveraging AI for real-time captioning and translation across the European Union’s 24 official languages.  In Brazil, PBSF has developed a system using data from a central hub to monitor brain activity in newborns at high risk of neurological injury, allowing for rapid intervention to save lives and prevent permanent damage.

Front of a Woolworths store

Woolworths is making work simpler for its teams, streamlining supply chains and improving customer experiences across its vast network of stores and online channels by harnessing the cloud.

In retail and consumer products goods, we are partnering with customers to accelerate their data estate modernization to increase security, drive innovation and unlock intelligent insights.  PepsiCo is migrating its global data estate and SAP workloads to gain insights that will fuel product innovation and customer relationships while connecting its entire workforce through Microsoft 365.  In Australia, Woolworths is moving its mission-critical applications onto our cloud to streamline its supply chain and improve customer experiences across stores and channels. Marks & Spencer has adopted Azure Synapse Analytics after replacing its on-premises data warehouse, a move that now allows the British retail chain to scale and democratize its data in line with increasing consumer demand. Switzerland-based Nestlé is using a custom solution to prevent cybersecurity threats for its 300,000 employees worldwide. Beiersdorf AG, the German multinational personal-care products manufacturer and retailer, is keeping its more than 20,000 employees working securely with access to all of its applications and data.  In addition, Office Depot has created a citizen developer program to help employees turn productivity-boosting ideas into reality with Power Apps and Teams, and Australian retailer JB Hi-Fi Group is using a Dynamics 365-enabled intelligent solution to increase transparency and maintain strong customer satisfaction across its two brands regardless of whether a product is bought in-store or online.

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Land O’Lakes’ digital strategy is focused on enhancing digital capabilities, revitalizing rural communities, and transforming the Ag industry to build tighter connections between consumer and farmers through innovative cloud technologies.

Customers across industries are building innovative digital tools to help their communities and businesses thrive and deliver critical services and goods to people who need them most while encouraging safety, efficiency and inclusivity.  For example, we are working closely with Land O’Lakes to pioneer new innovations in agriculture to enhance the supply chain, expand sustainability practices and close the rural broadband gap across America.  Likewise, Farmlands, New Zealand’s largest rural supplies cooperative, is accelerating its cloud-based, e-commerce system to provide undisrupted access to vital farming supplies to its more than 70,000 shareholders across the country during the pandemic.  Mixed reality technologies are helping food and beverage manufacturers like Ecolab  ensure food safety and high-quality products, and Mercedes Benz USA is helping technicians across its dealerships repair and maintain vehicles more efficiently.  Construction company Suffolk is promoting safer jobsites with thermal imaging cameras to check the temperature of everyone entering a worksite, and in France, Sodexo is delivering digital tools and assistive technologies to help develop employment opportunities and build digital skills for first-line workers with disabilities.  Africa’s Talking is helping software developers grow and create more job and economic opportunity even in regions with limited local cloud access using Azure Arc.  We are also partnering closely with Citrix on go-to-market solutions that enable companies to reimagine the workplace of the future and adapt to changing market conditions with cloud-based tools and services.

I am deeply impressed by our customers’ commitment to innovating for today’s reality and tomorrow’s promise — especially at such an accelerated pace. Their efforts now help limit operational and environmental risk in the future while still strengthening their ability to respond to shifting market demands.  I am also humbled they have selected Microsoft as their digital transformation partner and am eager to help accelerate their transformation through recovery and beyond.

The post A time of resiliency, change and innovation: How cloud-focused business strategies are driving transformation across industries appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Original Source: blogs.microsoft.com

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Artificial intelligence needs to be regulated to protect humans from manipulation.

AI could influence our decisions in a major way — and lead to dangerous outcomes, says technology researcher TaeWoo Kim.
According to his research with Adam Duhachek, AI messages were more persuasive when it showed people how to perform tasks.
People were also more likely to accept unfair offers from AI and disclose personal information, a sign that people are more vulnerable to manipulation than we think.
Kim believes governments need to take these behaviors into account and push for protective measures when regulating AI. 
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Have you ever used Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon Alexa to make decisions for you? Perhaps you asked it what new movies have good reviews, or to recommend a cool restaurant in your neighbourhood.

Artificial intelligence and virtual assistants are constantly being refined, and may soon be making appointments for you, offering medical advice, or trying to sell you a bottle of wine.

Although AI technology has miles to go to develop social skills on par with ours, some AI has shown impressive language understanding and can complete relatively complex interactive tasks.

In several 2018 demonstrations, Google’s AI made haircut and restaurant reservations without receptionists realising they were talking with a non-human.

Would you let Google Duplex make phone bookings for you?

It’s likely the AI capabilities developed by tech giants such as Amazon and Google will only grow more capable of influencing us in the future.

But what do we actually find persuasive?

My colleague Adam Duhachek and I found AI messages are more persuasive when they highlight “how” an action should be performed, rather than “why”. For example, people were more willing to put on sunscreen when an AI explained how to apply sunscreen before going out, rather than why they should use sunscreen.

We found people generally don’t believe a machine can understand human goals and desires. Take Google’s AlphaGo, an algorithm designed to play the board game Go. Few people would say the algorithm can understand why playing Go is fun, or why it’s meaningful to become a Go champion. Rather, it just follows a pre-programmed algorithm telling it how to move on the game board.

Our research suggests people find AI’s recommendations more persuasive in situations where AI shows easy steps on how to build personalized health insurance, how to avoid a lemon car, or how to choose the right tennis racket for you, rather than why any of these are important to do in a human sense.

Does AI have free will?

Most of us believe humans have free will. We compliment someone who helps others because we think they do it freely, and we penalize those who harm others. What’s more, we are willing to lessen the criminal penalty if the person was deprived of free will, for instance if they were in the grip of a schizophrenic delusion.

But do people think AI has free will? We did an experiment to find out.

Someone is given $100 and offers to split it with you. They’ll get $80 and you’ll get $20. If you reject this offer, both you and the proposer end up with nothing. Gaining $20 is better than nothing, but previous research suggests the $20 offer is likely to be rejected because we perceive it as unfair. Surely we should get $50, right?

But what if the proposer is an AI? In a research project yet to be published, my colleagues and I found the rejection ratio drops significantly. In other words, people are much more likely to accept this “unfair” offer if proposed by an AI.

This is because we don’t think an AI developed to serve humans has a malicious intent to exploit us — it’s just an algorithm, it doesn’t have free will, so we might as well just accept the $20.

The fact people could accept unfair offers from AI concerns me, because it might mean this phenomenon could be used maliciously. For example, a mortgage loan company might try to charge unfairly high interest rates by framing the decision as being calculated by an algorithm. Or a manufacturing company might manipulate workers into accepting unfair wages by saying it was a decision made by a computer.

To protect consumers, we need to understand when people are vulnerable to manipulation by AI. Governments should take this into account when considering regulation of AI.

We’re surprisingly willing to divulge to AI

In other work yet to be published, my colleagues and I found people tend to disclose their personal information and embarrassing experiences more willingly to an AI than a human.

We told participants to imagine they’re at the doctor for a urinary tract infection. We split the participants, so half spoke to a human doctor, and half to an AI doctor. We told them the doctor is going to ask a few questions to find the best treatment and it’s up to you how much personal information you provide.

Participants disclosed more personal information to the AI doctor than the human one, regarding potentially embarrassing questions about use of sex toys, condoms, or other sexual activities. We found this was because people don’t think AI judges our behavior, whereas humans do. Indeed, we asked participants how concerned they were for being negatively judged, and found the concern of being judged was the underlying mechanism determining how much they divulged.

It seems we feel less embarrassed when talking to AI. This is interesting because many people have grave concerns about AI and privacy, and yet we may be more willing to share our personal details with AI.

But what if AI does have free will?

We also studied the flipside: What happens when people start to believe AI does have free will? We found giving AI human-like features or a human name could mean people are more likely to believe an AI has free will.

This has several implications:

AI can then better persuade people on questions of “why”, because people think the human-like AI may be able to understand human goals and motivationsAI’s unfair offer is less likely to be accepted because the human-looking AI may be seen as having its own intentions, which could be exploitativePeople start feeling judged by the human-like AI and feel embarrassed, and disclose less personal informationPeople start feeling guilty when harming a human-looking AI, and so act more benignly to the AI.

We are likely to see more and different types of AI and robots in future. They might cook, serve, sell us cars, tend to us at the hospital, and even sit on a dining table as a dating partner. It’s important to understand how AI influences our decisions, so we can regulate AI to protect ourselves from possible harms.

TaeWoo Kim, lecturer, UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The ConversationRead the original article on Business Insider

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