GesellschaftJeff Watkins

Jeff Watkins

Chief Product and Technology Officer bei xDesign

AI has been around for a long time in the industry. However, it’s not seen a wide uptake
amongst large swathes of the development community – it being considered to be in the
realm of the AI and Data Science specialists. The democratisation of access to Generative
AI late on in 2022 and excitement throughout 2023 took many of us by surprise and many
self-proclaimed AI experts, startups and innovations popped up overnight, taking us into a
genuine hype-cycle.

The reality behind the hype is less exciting, as bungled attempts to implement GenAI by
some big name organisations has revealed we’re inadequately prepared to capitalise on this next wave of tech safely and sustainably. The most obvious problem is a lack of
understanding and skills in the sector to implement AI-based solutions, especially
Generative AI, where outside of the big hitters such as MAMAA, OpenAI and Mistral, there
are not really many true experts due to the immaturity of the technology.
However, it goes deeper than just being able to code an AI-based system, as there’s several other important KIareas we need to cover when it comes to upskilling our teams.
The first is securing AI-based applications, especially in the field of Generative AI, as there
are multiple new kinds of attacks made possible by exposing non-deterministic services to
the end user. The second is the ethical and legal implications of any AI-based solutions we
design and deliver, with the legislation being in a state of continuous and rapid change.
Finally, the environmental implications of these systems, as they typically use more
resources than a traditional implementation, with predictions that global power usage will
surge upwards over the next few years.

In reality, security, ethics and environmental impacts should be default considerations whenbuilding any solution, but AI presents its own set of challenges and intensifies the need for a more focused preparatory approach.
With that in mind, at xDesign, we’re building out learning and development pathways to
prepare people for each of these areas, alongside general awareness, usage in everyday
work and practical implementation. We’re taking a layered approach to this, as certain areas of the business only need to know what AI is (and isn’t), and how to use it safely in their everyday lives. People designing and implementing systems will need a much deeper
understanding to ensure we’re delivering the kind of products the world needs, in legal, safe, fair and sustainable ways.

What’s more, we need to go further as an industry. The world of academia for instance has
often lagged behind when it comes to providing up-to-date technical content, so we’ve been working with local universities to encourage the inclusion of modern AI, cybersecurity and ethics into degree programmes, because the next generation of technologists may be the first to be the “AI Natives” of our times. With Gen Z being one of the most permissive
generations when it comes to technology, we need to bake the right kind of approaches into their experience and usage of the tech as early as possible. Our AI future is, after all, in their hands.

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