SAP's VP of AI discusses AI acceptance
AI has brought drastic change to many fields, automating systems, improving efficiency, and refining performance. Despite the widespread use of AI, its impact on society is not yet clear. For instance, how literate is the mass audience on AI and its subsets? How aware are they of algorithmic decisions affecting people's lives, which mostly are made by software companies? How accepting are people of the overall change to a more AI-enabled society?
 
To answer these questions, Wow AI had a talk with Andreas Welsch, the current VP of AI at SAP, the third largest software company worldwide as of 2020.
 
In an insightful pre-Worldwide AI Webinar interview with Andreas Welsch and the former Editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, David Churbuck, we will discover what the current AI acceptance is like and why AI literacy needs to be promoted as soon as possible.
 
Watch the whole interview here.
 

About the speaker

Having worked at SAP for the past 11 years, Andreas Welsch is now the company’s Vice President and Head of Marketing & Solution Management — Artificial Intelligence. In June 2022, he was selected as one of the top 50 AI experts and thought leaders by SwissCognitive. 
 
A true expert in the field, Andreas is passionate about helping educate customers and business leaders on what AI truly is and how one can implement it into their work seamlessly and effectively. He is currently the host of a bi-weekly livestream called What’s The Buzz on LinkedIn where he invites AI leaders and hands-on industry experts to come and share their experiences, as well as teaching the audience to set up and scale AI.
 

The current AI/ML acceptance leads to a need for AI literacy

An interesting anecdote Andreas shared was that in 2008-2009 when he took Artificial Intelligence as an elective at college, it amounted to zero credits. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint the reason but in the 2000s, AI seemed too futuristic and infeasible. Movies like The Matrix probably couldn’t happen in real life.
 
Fast forward to 6-7 years later, AI winter slowly transitioned. Many businesses invested in AI around 2015, including SAP. The company was enabling the market and educating the customers about machine learning, its benefits, opportunities, and challenges. 
 
Though AI is not as simple as people used to think a couple of years back, the market is maturing and gaining more experiences from failure: 
 
 
 
“They have much better understanding of the technology, what it can do, what it can't do. And I think it's just still such a fantastic and exciting space to be in because now we get to shape what we can actually do with it.” - Andreas Welsch, VP of AI at SAP
 
 
When asked whether we are in danger of constraining AI’s expansion and extension by overregulating it and giving in to too many fears about, for example, Skynet, Mr. Welsch believed that the fear of not being the pinnacle of evolution always exists within humanity. 
 
However, he thought we need to look at some of the rules and regulations and more importantly, our values as a society. Based on these values, he trusted that humans already have in mind a certain way we want AI to operate. That’s why data privacy regulations were put into practice. Skynet might cause us fears. Yet, if put into business processes, it presents a tangible opportunity to save lives: whether it’s detecting cancerous tumors, saving doctors’ time, and automating the payment processes. 
 
There are two sides of the same coin and Andreas Welsch believes to achieve wider AI acceptance, AI awareness must be promoted:
 
“The key is you need to make sure that people who are affected by the change are part of this process and that they are aware of why and how you want to introduce a certain technology like AI, what its limitations are, where it can help them become better and more effective.”
 
Andreas Welsch will be presenting the topic of Creating an AI mindset and AI literacy in businesses at the Worldwide AI Webinar this September 29-30. 
 
Get your ticket today: https://event.wow-ai.com/worldwideAI2022/
 
Watch the whole interview here!