Demystifying artificial intelligence with Nisarg Mehta: 10 takeaways from WESCCON 2023

Supply chain management is a complex and highly regulated industry. Freight forwarding and customs brokerage professionals often deal with intricate processes, compliance requirements, and a vast amount of data. AI can significantly impact these sectors, but misconceptions about the capabilities of AI and its perception as a disruptive technology abound. 

Donna-Marie Bohan

This was a topic addressed in a keynote speech delivered by Raft’s CTO and Co-founder Nisarg Mehta at WESCCON 2023, where the audience gained valuable insights into the world of artificial intelligence. With a background in machine learning and AI, Nisarg offered a refreshing perspective on AI, aiming to demystify it and make it more accessible to the logistics professionals in attendance.


Here are some of the key takeaways from the keynote speech: 

1. A historical perspective on AI.

Nisarg took WESCCON attendees on a journey back in time, highlighting the fascination and fear that early attempts at AI evoked in ancient civilizations. He shared stories of wooden birds and mechanical contraptions that were the precursors to today's AI technology, emphasizing how new innovations often raise concerns but eventually become a part of our everyday lives.

2. The cycle of fear and acceptance.

Nisarg pointed out the recurring pattern of fear surrounding new technologies, as people often fear what they don't understand. He shared an example from the history of chess-playing machines, which initially baffled and terrified people but later became an accepted part of the chess world. The message here was clear: initial fears are often unwarranted and skepticism can eventually give way to acceptance and integration of new technologies. 

3. Modern artificial intelligence and its evolution.

The emergence of modern AI in the 1950s was discussed, focusing on the contributions of Alan Turing and the concept of the Turing test. While there were periods of excitement and funding for AI research in previous decades, there were also AI "winters" when interest waned. The deep learning revolution in 2012 marked a turning point, leading to significant advancements in AI.

4. The rapid pace of AI innovation.

The audience learned about the fast-paced evolution of AI technology, much of which happens behind the scenes in research labs. Notably, he talked about OpenAI's GPT-3, which has gained widespread attention for its capabilities and adoption. 

5. AI in everyday life. 

AI is already integrated into people's daily lives. From virtual assistants to navigation apps and speech recognition, AI increases productivity and convenience.The audience were encouraged to think about how AI can enhance their own work and make it more efficient and, ultimately, rewarding.

6. AI in the supply chain world. 

The keynote also partly addressed the role of AI in logistics. While acknowledging that the industry has been slower to adopt AI due to its complexity and lack of visibility, Nisarg highlighted that AI technology has matured and is now powerful enough to make a significant impact in the supply chain. 


7. Overcoming fear and misconceptions.

The audience was urged to overcome irrational fears and misconceptions about AI as it was stressed that AI is a tool designed to enhance productivity and alleviate professionals from mundane tasks. AI can therefore free up valuable time for more meaningful and value-added work.

8. Human-machine collaboration.

Nisarg encouraged the idea of human-machine collaboration, where AI amplifies human capabilities but he also emphasized the importance of audit and governance mechanisms to ensure the accuracy of AI in critical business processes.

9. Cultural and regional differences in attitudes to AI. 

Talking about how cultural attitudes and regional factors can impact the adoption of AI, Nisarg noted that the maturity and acceptance of AI are growing in many parts of the world. The message was one of optimism, highlighting that AI can adapt to various contexts.

10. AI and the future of work.

The future of work in freight forwarding and customs brokerage will be heavily influenced by AI, much like how everyday tools like Alexa or GPS have become integral to our lives. AI will automate mundane tasks, allowing professionals to focus on more meaningful and enjoyable aspects of their work, fostering better relationships and greater operational efficiency.

Curious to learn more about how AI is transforming the world of work in the supply chain industry? To discover how, schedule a personalized demo with Raft today

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