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May the fourth be with you: Star Wars gives us the vision of just how powerful AI in business could be

May the 4th taps into the iconic 'may the force be with you' line from Star Wars, making today the day of Jedi celebration.

By Ellie Burns

May the Fourth be with you! Today is Star Wars day, a day of celebration for the fans of the popular series of films set in a galaxy far, far away. Be it Yoda, Princess Leia or Darth Vader, today is the one day earmarked to celebrate your favourite character or film in the series.

However, there is much more to learn from the Star Wars franchise than how to become a Jedi, with the films providing a future vision of robots and artificial intelligence.

“With Star Wars Day being celebrated across the world, its impact on how we think about robots and computers can’t be underestimated,” said Alex Guillen, Go-to-Market Manager at Insight.

“A huge part of the fabric of the Star Wars is Artificial Intelligence (AI) – whether it’s the emotive beeps and squeaks of R2-D2 or the dry English humour of C-3PO, many of us have grown up with the idea that robots have personalities. We might not quite be at a Star Wars level yet, but with digital disruption impacting businesses large and small the potential impact of AI on businesses is worth getting excited about.”

May the fourth be with you: Star Wars gives us the vision of just how powerful AI in business could be

Although linking Star Wars to digital disruption may seem like a stretch of the imagination, one only need look at how far technology has come and its jump from fiction to reality. Technology seen in films like Minority Report and Back to the Future have now become part of everyday life – face-scanning marketing technology seen in Minority Report is now being developed by retailers, while Uber is channeling Back to the Future and reportedly working on flying cars with NASA.

When Luke Skywalker talks to R2-D2, there are parallels to be seen with the Siris and Alexas of the world, with this technology now in our very homes. Businesses, meanwhile, are tapping the technology to boost customer experience – Facebook, Microsoft, Sage and RBS are just some of the big names turning to chatbot tech. This adoption of AI is transforming customer experience and simplifying operations, thus reducing costs and upping efficiencies.

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“AI is already weaving its way into our lives. Implementing AI to automate numerous, repetitive operations for example has a significant impact on efficiencies, giving smaller businesses the freedom to allocate their resources towards reaching new customers. Customer service is another area that AI is making a big impact right now,” said Mr Guillen.

“It’s already saving smaller companies the enormous costs of investing in customer service call centres and staff, while giving them the flexibility to invest their resources into other areas of the business.”

AI is becoming a key component of the modern business, with businesses now told to get on board with AI in order to deliver better insights, better customer experience, better efficiencies and that all important competitive edge.

What is exciting is that the innovations and development in AI is only going to keep building momentum – looking at the UK, AI and machine learning in London alone has been of particular interest to investors, drawing £85.75m in 2016 – a figure which is 20 times the amount raised just 5 years ago.May the fourth be with you: Star Wars gives us the vision of just how powerful AI in business could be

Star Wars’ vision of AI and robots is an exciting one – which is why there is a whole day dedicated to the celebration of the films. However, in agreement with Mr Guillen, AI in today’s world is also exciting. Just look at IBM Watson and its efforts in fighting everything from cyber crime to cancer. What is even more exciting, if IBM Watson is fighting cancer today, what could it do in the future? It may not be such a stretch to think that it may be part of an AI ecosystem more akin to Star Wars than the one we have today.

“I for one thank Star Wars for giving us a vision of just how powerful AI can be in transforming our lives, and for giving smaller businesses the agility to remain competitive,” concluded Mr Guillen.

“There’s a galaxy of opportunity out there for those businesses who are willing to implement AI solutions in the right way, and we look forward to watching those that seize it.”

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