Josh and Angela have written a book called The Mathematical Corporation, based on their exposure to various customer use cases of Machine Intelligence at Booz Allen. They discuss a few here.
Sramana Mitra: You can decide who goes first. Please introduce yourselves as well as frame this conversation in the context of Booz Allen as well as your book.
Josh Sullivan: Ladies first, of course.
Angela Zutavern: I’m Vice President at Booz Allen. I specialize on the impact of machine intelligence on strategy and leadership.
Josh Sullivan: I’m Senior Vice President at Booz Allen. I lead our machine intelligence business, which includes all of our AI and data science tech work.
Sramana Mitra: You two have co-authored a book right?
Josh Sullivan: That’s right, The Mathematical Corporation. About five years ago, we set out to discover how technology, leadership, and faster innovation would end up affecting business and government, and even non-profits. We distilled everything we heard and the stories that we’ve learned into this book in order to give business leaders a framework on how to even think about emergence of AI and all these advanced technologies, and how that’s actually going to change the way they lead and think to drive different business outcomes. That’s the motivation for the book. It was a labor of love.
Sramana Mitra: Terrific. What I’m interested in is use cases of your customers or experience where this mathematical corporation concept is taking shape. Provide us examples of context of customer problems and what kind of solutions and strategies are being pursued.
Josh Sullivan: One of the big use cases and the ideas that we came up with is that in a lot of cases, machines and AI work a lot better than the human gut. For a long time, intuition has served us well. We always fall back on our gut instinct. Our mind absorbs details. We understand things consciously and unconsciously in ways that we probably fully understand. We saw bias creeping into algorithms.
We saw people’s overestimation or overconfidence in things. These all creep into how people were using their own intuition. We had an international hotel group. They did something pretty incredible. They acknowledge that, in many cases, the machine works better than the gut. They took a leap of faith. We helped them create an entire new loyalty club program.
The AI algorithms are the ones that choose which individual gets matched for certain offers, but the marketing team gets to devise the content. They figure out how to do a division of labor so they can optimize where machines work better and put the machines there to the decisions, and have their marketing team where humans work better. It was very successful.