ITWeb Events spoke to Willie Strydom, enterprise security architect, Wesbank, about his upcoming presentation on artificial intelligence and machine learning at the ITWeb Industry Tech Update 2017 event on 18 October 2017, at The Focus Rooms, Sunninghill. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are on everyone's lips, but are they really game-changers or just buzzwords? Willie Strydom explores why AI is the natural evolution of IT and why it is necessary that we evolve accordingly.  He will also look at the effect of AI and ML on industry how they are set to change the way we work with IT going forward as well as what the next generation, empowered by AI will be capable of.

ITWeb: You make reference to AI being the natural evolution of IT. Can you expand on this?

Strydom: A mobile phone was just a mobile phone until 2007. Apple introduced the concepts of mobile applications (apps) and these apps exploited the device's capabilities and made them into mini computers.  This isn't enough though.  To properly parse voice commands and to collaborate with other mobile apps, think of Waze, we need some intelligence in the cloud. This is the evolution I'm talking about.

ITWeb: How do you think AI will change the way people work in the information technology industry in the years to come?

Strydom: The tool in our hands is becoming more intelligent. Already the younger generation use this tool far better than we ever can.  Voice commands, memos and reminders are how they fully exploit these capabilities.

In time, I believe we will develop further just by using our voices. We won't be drawing diagrams of car chassis as an example, rather we will simply tell the AI what we want and it will generate it for us.  The AI will choose the materials best suited, and come up with other parameters that we may not even have considered.

ITWeb: Which design principles do you feel are key when deciding what AI should know and learn?

Strydom: There is so much debate doing the rounds on this point:  Google, Microsoft, IBM all have their own version of "guidelines or rules for AI".

Willie Strydom, enterprise security architect, Wesbank.

Willie Strydom, enterprise security architect, Wesbank.

In my opinion AI must aid, and not harm.  Job losses, economic decline due to AI doing the job a person used to do, unemployment levels rising, how would a street sweeper AI know he is causing such challenges/upheaval? As I said, it is a lot more complicated than we like to think.  

ITWeb: What key points are you hoping to leave the delegates with after your presentation in October?

Strydom: Although a very complex narrative in human time, with many unknowns we cannot afford to ignore the fact that AI and ML are coming, and soon.  The conversation is going to happen, we need to be part of this conversation, much better to talk about this now, before it is too late.