There is no shortage of hot takes regarding the significant impact that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to have on business in the near future. Much less has been written about how, exactly, companies should get started with it. In our research and in our book, we begin by distilling AI down to its very simplest economics, and we offer one approach to taking that first step.
We start with a simple insight: Recent developments in AI are about lowering the cost of prediction. AI makes prediction better, faster, and cheaper. Not only can you more easily predict the future (What’s the weather going to be like next week?), but you can also predict the present (what is the English translation of this Spanish website?). Prediction is about using information you have to generate information you don’t have. Anywhere you have lots of information (data) and want to filter, squeeze, or sort it into insights that will facilitate decision making, prediction will help get that done. And now machines can do it.
Better predictions matter when you make decisions in the face of uncertainty, as every business does, constantly. But how do you think through what it would take to incorporate a prediction machine into your decision-making process?
In teaching this subject to MBA graduates at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, we have introduced a simple decision-making tool: the AI Canvas. Each space on the canvas contains one of the requirements for machine-assisted decision making, beginning with a prediction.