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The future of robotics and artificial intelligence  

alicia salgado | enfoque financiero | 18 november 2016

To access Alan's interview in Spanish on Enfoque Financiero's site, click here

PA’s CEO, Alan Middleton, is interviewed by Alicia Salgado from Radio Mil’s Enfoque Noticias.  The interview looks at the future of robotics and AI, and the potential impact to Mexico.

Alicia introduces Alan, explaining that he is well-versed on how AI has advanced the decision making process, improved productivity and creativity across a wide variety of industries. Alicia says that many times, people do not know the difference between robotics and AI, and this is a big inhibitor when it comes to taking advantage of the technology.

Alicia asks about the difference between robotics and AI. Alan says “We should first talk about robotics. Many people tend to think about big machines, for example at a car assembly factory. However, there is a growing trend in software robotics that will start to gain traction. Thinking about physical devices and software devices is a good way to think about robotics. Robotics is quickly evolving and now we have cobots: cooperative machines that work side-by-side humans. These are physical devices that cooperate with humans to execute basic or routine tasks. We are not talking about big machines, but machines that have intelligence built into them; they are designed and trained to work alongside humans, to supplement what they do.” 

Alan goes on to talk about software robotics, which is similar to AI and are, at times, combined. He says, “For example, in the UK, clients have asked for help in their call centers. Here, PA is supporting organizations that install software robotics. This means that when you make a phone call, it is answered by a robot. These robots are so sophisticated at answering and handling complex tasks, that people who are calling do not know they are not talking to a human being. Alan says that this software robotics uses AI in the back end to help decide on answers to complex questions, such as tax payments or travel decisions.”

Alicia proceeds to talk about AI. She says that the current life of humans and urbanization require complex solutions in which decisions on environment, logistics and transport, healthcare and security are combined. She asks how PA can support the government of Mexico or Mexican businesses to solve and coordinate all this complexity.

Alan says, “For a long time, PA has helped in the United States when it comes to using decision making science and AI to cover all aspects of complex problems. Now looking at Mexico, take for example the new Mexico City airport.  This is a complex project, with multiple stakeholders and multiple impacts the country is looking to deliver. The use of AI, complex simulations, and decision making sciences can and should help here so that the airport is built in a better way than if it’s simply built as a lineal program.” Alan describes that clients in Mexico are very interested in AI, decision sciences and this kind of modeling. 

Alan explains that, “Nowadays, the consumer goods sector is really interested in better understanding the consumer habits and how to manage the supply chain to achieve greater efficiency. He says that in Mexico, we’ll see a better understanding of the products that are placed in the market and a better understanding of the purchase cycle of consumers.”

Alan concludes, “If we look at the large number of small stores in Mexico and compare it to the rest of the world we’ll find a logistics nightmare. Some stores have people that go to the stores to fill an order that then that is sent to the headquarters and it shouldn’t be this way. PA sees a true interest in clients in Mexico that are eager to understand the supply chain and make it more efficient. Mexico has a long way to go in really adapting products to meet the needs and desires of the consumers.” 

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