Shaping the future of disruptive technology

7 Jul 2017

Image: Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock

As part of the TechWatch series, Brian Shevlin of Connect Shapers reflects on the past to understand the present advancements in cognitive analytics, disruptive technology and AI.

Most of us appreciate that advances in technology are increasingly shaping our world. My mother, now in her 60s, was born into a home without a phone, television or computer and clearly no internet. (They did, however, have a typewriter!)

Today, we all take these things for granted. My children can’t imagine a world in which technology didn’t exist in its current form.

Future Human

Can you recall life pre-Google?

The impact of disruptive technologies is clearly evident from our recent past, and is predicted to increasingly be impactful on our future.

How we ready ourselves for these future changes is where I have been able to tie together my interests with the aim of Connect Shapers.

‘The impact of disruptive technologies on individuals, society, existing organisations and the economy is not in question’

Before specialising in IT, my academic background was focused on psychology and psychometrics. My interest lay in questioning what shapes our choices and the resulting consequences. Therefore, cognitive analytics – how analytics and cognitive computing technologies are applied to help us make smarter decisions – is of special interest to me.

My current role includes collaborating with data scientists and identifying practical opportunities where we can have computers make smart decisions faster. I work within the Allstate CompoZed Labs, where extreme Agile practices are applied to real business problems. The product I am presently working on invokes a data model to automate decisions currently made by humans.

What is Connect Shapers?

It was because of my interests and current role that I was nominated to become a Connect Shaper. I was unsure what to expect but the first meeting with the Catalyst Inc team, Peter Edgar and Steve Orr among others, dispelled this ambiguity.

Connect Shapers is a group of hand-picked individuals from a variety of backgrounds (corporate, academic and start-up) who are working with Catalyst Inc to create inflection-point debates and events around key questions impacting health, finance, transport, energy, government, society and food.

When the first area of focus for the Connect Shapers involved cognitive analytics/artificial intelligence, it was natural that I wanted to be part of the core group to drive out the event.

The ultimate aim is to engage interested parties, and create a stimulus and network for those who can help shape the local economy, so that our society is not just best placed to respond to disruptive technology, but ideally can help drive out these changes.

The impact of disruptive technologies on individuals, society, existing organisations and the economy is not in question.

The Connect Shapers group, by launching a unique learning and networking programme, hopes to ensure we are all better placed to embrace the opportunities on offer and address any challenges.

By Brian Shevlin

Brian Shevlin is a member of Connect Shapers. He recently helped to coordinate the first event of The 4th Industrial Revolution Challenge, which was a debate focusing on the benefits and challenges presented by AI, entitled: ‘Artificial Intelligence: Priceless or Perilous?’

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland