There is a creeping tendency to use the terms “automation” and “artificial intelligence” interchangeably, especially in product and service presentations. It would be helpful to differentiate precisely between the terms and draw attention to situations where the dangers of overlap occur.
Matters are not helped when technology vendors mouth terms like Intelligent Automation (“IA”), Intelligence Process Automation (“IPA”) and Robotic Process Automation (“RPA”).
To provide some clarity, let us begin with some definitions
Automation may or may not be based on Artificial Intelligence. Automation can be provided through the use of sensors which trigger an action when certain thresholds are exceeded. This type of automation is simply rules based- if x then y.
However, basing automation on AI is more complex, as in machine learning, learning algorithms – not computer programmers – create the rules.
As a result, whilst it is easy to predict the output of simple automation process through data readings, by contrast, there is considerably less certainty with ”AI” systems.
It is this existence of this uncertainty which requires clear differentiation for legal, regulatory, governance, ethical investment, industry sector regulations and possibly taxation reasons.
So, with respect to IA, IPA, and RPA:
The pace of development and application of “AI” to industrial and service sectors is disputed by both this commentator and other analysts, in part because of the confused and interchangeable use of the terms which I have sought to explain. Unfortunately, the definitions are not merely a syntax exercise.
Enterprises are advised to consciously understand and document whether they are developing and implementing “AI“ or process which precede or facilitate “AI” as the prospect legislation, regulation, service and industry sector requirements, questions of ethics, audit requirements, liability and even taxation should be taken into account.
Confusion over terminology is likely to require additional time and resource into a fundamental evaluation of exactly what an enterprise is doing when it deploys technologies to gain efficiencies.
Equally technology vendors and service suppliers should be very clear in specifying whether they are, or are not providing artificial intelligence as this may have significant legal repercussions.
The nightmare scenario, where enterprises are obliged to react to what I term “interference” in the form of legislation, regulation, audit and other requirements, needs to be contemplated as part of the enterprise risk management function in any “AI” developments.