Amid the hustle and bustle of NYC’s Times Square, several hundred data enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the US launch of the Outside Insight book at NASDAQ after the market closed.
“It’s very fitting that we are at NASDAQ here today.”
Jorn took center stage following a stop or two at the OI photo booth to discuss the idea behind Outside Insight – diving first into the reason behind his decision to write a book.
“Initially, I came up with a very innocent idea. The idea is there is so much external information that is really not incorporated into decision-making today. Today we’re looking in the wrong place. We’re looking mostly at our internal data. We invest a large amount of time, effort and money mining our internal data. But some of the most interesting information is to be found in external data. That is why I wrote the book Outside Insight.”
Jorn believes that decision-making needs to change, because the world has changed. With a single Google search, we can discover more information than can ever be contained in an internal database. Why, then, are we not consistently looking outside of our own firewalls?
“If you think about this internal data,” Jorn went on. “Internal data is very myopic. It says more about you and your operational machinery than anything else. Your cash flow generation. Your churn. Your sales efficiency. Your client acquisition costs. The focus is about you – it’s inwards.”
He discussed OI as the software category of the future, which will operate in much the same way that algorithmic trading currently operates, utilizing machine learning to predict possible outcomes. This, he believes, will serve to help business leaders make better, more informed decisions.
How AI will change the world
In what can only be described as a hopeful and optimistic forward-looking panel discussion, Jorn, along with guests Andrew Eisen and Oliver Christie, discussed the future of AI and best scenario use cases, from preventing the spread of disease to enabling us to extend human capabilities.
“It can’t be understated that AI is on the cusp of changing everything,” Oliver posited. “Anyone who is not awake and seeing that we’re about to have a huge change across all industries is not paying attention.”
According to Oliver, AI isn’t just a set of technologies – it’s a new approach to the world. Andrew agreed, though cautioned that in order to enact this technology, it’s people that will have to change most. “It’s not the technology that’s going to be hard. It’s the iterations and innovations on top of it where people have to change.
“I think whenever it comes down to technology and change, it really comes down to the people and you have a couple really motivated people with the right skills, the tools are there to change the world.”
Jorn sees AI invading nearly every corner of our lives in the near future. “I think AI can contribute in the medical sector to give you a more accurate diagnosis, earlier, to help you understand exactly what kind of medicine you should have, at what time. I think there’s a whole world of things that can be done in that space.”
He also believes, as illustrated in his book, that AI will play a big role in the way you run companies and the way you make decisions. But he warned that it cannot be trusted absolutely; like anything man-made, AI has inherent biases. We must continue to question the assumptions in order to make the best decisions based on the data we receive.
“I think one of the most important things for AI to be successful is that executives and decision-makers have the data science literacy or sophistication to beat up the model, to challenge the model, to massage this model and to fully understand what are the underlying assumptions here to make sure the answer actually matches the terrain they want to operate in.”
For Andrew, this has a lot to do with the fact that our machines are still learning – just like we’ve been able to do as people. “We all grow up and we make mistakes. We learn not to touch fire because it burns. We have experiences that modify our behavior. Machines are no different.”
In a final plug for his podcast, moderator John Biggs asked the panelists to offer their own perspective on where they see the technological world in 20 years.
While Jorn confirmed he does not see a future with self-driving cars, he also suggested we as humans will start to interface with external hardware – allowing us to extend our capabilities. Oliver spoke of his new project designing an airline that would allow us to escape the throes of jetlag, and offered hope for a better, more connected and structured healthcare system globally.
Andrew then dove in further, predicting a shift of all business and government leadership to those who are younger, more adept in technology, and aware about what tech can do. He went on to predict that personal identity will be embedded on people – and that the way we interface with each other will move more toward augmented reality, trained to deal with information overload.
Whatever the future holds, our panelists faced it with optimism. One thing is certain – Outside Insight and its ability to transform decision-making will play a massive role in it.