As artificial intelligence (AI) research and development continues to strengthen, there have been some incredibly intriguing projects where machines battled man in tasks that were once thought the realm of humans.  While not all were 100% successful, Artificial Intelligence researchers and technology companies have learned a lot about how to continue forward momentum as well as what a future might look like when machines and humans work alongside one another.  

World Champion chess player Garry Kasparov competed against artificial intelligence twice. In the first chess match-up between machine (IBM Deep Blue) and man (Kasparov) in 1996 Kasparov won. The next year, Deep Blue was victorious. When Deep Blue won, many talked that it was a sign that artificial intelligence was catching up to human intelligence and it inspired a documentary film called The Man vs. The Machine.

 Shortly after losing, Kasparov went on record to state he thought the IBM team had cheated; however, in an interview in 2016, he acknowledged that he had analyzed the match and retracted his cheating accusation. 

 Next up in the man versus machine is the achievements of AlphaGo, a machine that was able to learn for itself what knowledge is. The supercomputer was able to learn 3,000 years of human knowledge in a mere 40 days prompting some to claim it was “one of the greatest advances ever in artificial intelligence.”  

 The system had already learned how to beat the world champion of Go, an ancient board game that was once thought to be impossible for a machine to decipher. The film about the experience is now available on Netflix. AlphaGo's success, when not being constrained by human knowledge, presents the possibility of the system being used to solve some of the world's most challenging problems such as in healthcare or energy or environmental concerns. 

 As we wait for SAP to unveil it next man vs machine AI tool to manage electronic invoicing, one of our customers approached us and asked whether we could help them add 6,000 supplier invoices.  To make it difficult the customer needed us to complete the task in less than a week.  That meant we had no time to waste and building and compiling code, integrating scanners and AI was just going to be out of the question, as would waiting for SAP’s the software delivered for free by SAP in one of the future quarterly upgrades. 

 The deadline was looming, budget low and whilst relatively uncomplicated, Greybeard Corporate Solutions and their SAP partner Orchard House Solutions were asked whether they could complete the job, within 30 minutes, the training completed and the job was started.  We knew that we were up against it so after a few hours we videoed the employee with the best performance and shared her methods with the rest of the team.

What we received were massive improvements in the true 5S style.  Methods of increasing productivity and outputs, influenced by Taylorism, we remain a forerunner in applying behavioral science to increase productivity internally and externally at our customers. 

 The implementation of SAP Business ByDesign will usually deliver significant ROI, by incorporating classic scientific management like lean management or business process reengineering don’t just underpin the benefits, they are likely to double if not triple the returns. 

 After three days 2,500 invoices had been posted, performance and accuracy rates were still increasing, which indeed is a testament to the humans' ability to learn and adapt and improve efficiency in real-time.   Having completed a job after 5 days, we have a happy customer and another referenceable service that validates human endeavor and not overthinking a solution is sometimes faster.  Man 1:2 Machine. 

 Thank you for reading my post. I regularly write about management and technology trends related to SAP Business ByDesign, most can be found at the blog or here on LinkedIn. To read my future posts simply join my network on Linkedin or click 'Follow'. 

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