While attending the Munich founders conference “Bits & Pretzels” OMMAX heard a very interesting interview by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. He gave stunning insights into machine learning and the future of voice controlled devices.

What should companies do to put artificial intelligence and machine learning at the heart of their own business?

Werner Vogels (Amazon): Cloud computing has made it possible that everyone has access to the same computer systems; the same storages and the same analytic engines. So, this is no longer the difference that sets companies apart. The difference today is that the data companies have a specific set of tools, varying quality in information and a specific set of questions that they ask the data. That’s were many companies still struggle and that’s where machine learning comes in. In the first step, it means being smart about the data you have. If you have, like Amazon for example, billions of orders, you first have to put the right attributes to any of these orders in order to make use of machine learning later. Only then, if a new order comes in, will you know how to deal with it. So, in order to make smart decisions for the future, companies should use their data as soon as possible.

The first step is being smart about the data you have.

One of the areas of artificial intelligence that Amazon has made a huge investment in, is voice. Where exactly does this path lead?

W. V.: I think voice is the biggest revolution that we are currently seeing in digital systems. Mainly because until now all our digital systems for the past 50 years have been, I call it, computer-driven. I mean, the interface has always been a screen, a keyboard, later a mouse, all controlled by your fingers. But this has never been how you wanted to communicate. It is only how the computer forces you to communicate. For example, isn’t it much more natural to have human-like digital interfaces that you can talk to? I am sure we will see a big change in the way we build digital systems to make them more humanlike interfaces, instead of computer-centric interfaces.

Human-centric interfaces will be the next phase in terms of digital systems.

Could you give an example for human-centric interfaces?

W. V.: We have a customer, the International Rice Research Institute. They have about 75,000 different varieties of rice. They created a device for their farmers which gave them the ability to describe their piece of land to attain advice on how to best tend their land. However, nobody used it because all the farmers they gave it to didn’t have computers or smartphones at home and didn’t know properly how to use it. So, they changed the device and gave it a voice interface. Now farmers can talk to the system, describe their piece of land, and the device gives them a proper answer. You see, with voice controlled devices so many more individuals are able to use digital systems. If you are a mother and you have a child on your arm that is ill, you don’t want to log in to your computer and fill out a form. You want to scream at that thing: “Tell me what to do!” That’s why I think human-centric interfaces in general will be the next phase in terms of digital systems.

Watch the interview here:


About Bits & Pretzels
The festival “Bits & Pretzels” takes place in Munich, Germany from September 24th until September 26th. It is famous in the first place for its high-level speakers. Amongst others this year, there were: actor Kevin Spacey, entertainer Stefan Raab, digital entrepreneur Marc Samwer and soccer player Philipp Lahm.

OMMAX is a digital consultancy based in Munich. Mid-sized and big companies from all industry sectors rely on their know-how and experience in digital marketing, digital transactions and digital strategy. Learn more about OMMAX’ services.