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Digital Transformation Issue 24

David Telford, Vice President of Innovation


Our Robot Overlords are Here (and they are us)

This article is the second anniversary of the Digital Transformation section of the GSInsider. I thought for this article I would take a step back in time to last year and see how far we have come relative to the February 2018 article entitled “Our Robot Overlords are Here (and they don’t look like Terminator).

A year ago, we were all becoming aware of this concept of algorithms scouring our personal data to create a digital twin of ourselves, that could be used by legitimate and nefarious (Word of the Day Calendar) companies to direct advertising, or propaganda, into our screens. At that time, we were also just beginning to hear the rumblings of the Cambridge Analytical scandal with Facebook, which has since ballooned into a series of media attacks, not to mention some pretty tedious Senate hearings, on Facebook and privacy. It was also becoming very evident that our personal digital assistants may be listening more often that we thought.

guitarTrue story: I was in our Alpharetta office talking to one of my colleagues in the hallway outside my office about, of all things, guitar players and how since I was a fingerpicker, I was drawn to other fingerpickers to learn things about style and such. I then went to my laptop, not my phone, and pulled up YouTube and wouldn’t you know the first suggested video on the screen was “Beginner Fingerpicking Guitar Lesson – How to play Fingerstyle Guitar for a Beginner”! Outside my office. No phone in hand. So… that happened.

A year ago, we were also all jazzed up about the coming autonomous vehicle revolution, but a year and several high-profile autonomous car related deaths later,dave2 we’re still kind of where we were. And I’m still dealing with makeup-applying, newspaper reading, texting, Fast and the Furious fans, in the right lane, and 15 miles under the limit in the passing lane. Elon, Dude, where’s my autonomous car?

The biggest motion in automation though is around what is being called “Augmented Intelligence” (nothing artificial about it!). Being able to take massive amounts of data to form probabilistic insights and empower humans to make intelligent, yet subtle and subjective decisions using those insights, is the evolutionary step toward an AI powered world. Keep the rational thinking in the hands of the humans but make sure they are well-informed on the probabilities and outcomes of those decisions using real-world highly crunched data. The trick then is to make sure the data and the algorithms are purely objective, and without influence of the coder’s biases. Tricky stuff. We can’t control the biases of the human making the decisions with the data but again, it’s an evolution.

This month’s podcast is, among other things, a fascinating tale of how tech was used by one of the world’s biggest international drug traffickers to expand his empire, and how tech was ultimately used to track him down and bring him to justice.

Dave3“The Mastermind” author Evan Ratliff on how tech enabled a drug kingpin

Share your favorite tech sightings, or other stories at and follow me on Twitter @gsi_dave.


Meet the Author- Dave Telford