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Mashhood Ahmed on the latest AI trends

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mashhood Ahmed. Mashhood is a project management practitioner, speaker and mentor with over 18 years of experience in the field of project management and management consulting. He is currently leading a diverse portfolio of programs and projects at Sidra Medicine in Doha, Qatar (a state-of-the-art hospital and research center committed to providing women and children in Qatar with world-class tertiary healthcare services).

Prior to Sidra Medicine, he ran a boutique consulting firm in Canada and also served as an adjunct faculty member at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. Mashhood has a strong interest in artificial intelligence and regularly speaks on the subject at conferences across the globe.

Phil Siarri: Hi Mashhood, nice to connect with you. Can you tell our audience a little bit about your academic and professional experience?

Mashhood Ahmed: I immigrated to Canada as a skilled category immigrant in the year 2000, received a Master’s in Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology degree from the University of Waterloo in 2005, experienced a failed start-up, got a Project Management Professional Certification in 2008,technology roles in the US, Canada and Middle East, also led leadership role at a number of professional organizations and taught undergraduate courses in Canada.

Headshot picture of Mashhood Ahmed, Provided by Mashhood Ahmed.

For the last five years, I am leading a number of IT projects for the green field hospital in Qatar, Sidra Medicine, a tertiary care hospital providing specialized care for women and children in the Middle East region.

A couple years ago, I started giving back to project management community and started speaking at a number of international conferences. With the technology advancement in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning I started exploring its impact in the project management arena.

PS: Right now, there is a lot of hysteria around AI. Is the future as scary as it is portrayed by certain media outlets and tech commentators? How do you think humans should approach an “AI cohabitation”? Is widespread regulation inevitable?

MA: Industrial revolutions in the last 300 years have dramatically changed the world we live in today. From Machines to steam power, from mass production to electric grid and distribution, from computer automation now into fourth industrial revolution of cyber-physical systems. I remember clearly at the beginning of the millennium there was a big hype about the Y2K bug — world will come to an end, computers will shut down, nukes will be flying all over the place, etc… however we have seen nothing significant happen in that regard. Also, as it happens during each industrial revolution: roles and the positions change. Even today we still have a shortage of skills in a number of areas. Definitely a number of jobs won’t exist in future, not because of AI per say, it will be because of technology convergence of emerging technologies in general.

How should humans approach AI cohabitation? It will be the same as humans have been doing for the last 300 years with each industrial revolution, i.e. learning new skills, adopting new technology and embracing the change. Accordingly, to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, and I quote: “AI will introduce 133 million new jobs, while 75 million job/roles will decline” this is the net gain of 58 million new jobs that does not exist today. I will share the reference link with you later (editor’s note:

Legislators create regulatory agencies to allow experts in the industry to define the set of rules to be followed to regulate it. Of course, within AI there are a number of ethical and privacy challenges that would require regulation and enforcement. The Singapore Personal Data Protection Commission has recently drafted AI governance framework, which requires that organizations using AI in decision-making ensure that the decision process is explainable, transparent and fair. This is a good start.

PS: In your opinion, which AI innovations have the most potential in the healthcare sector? Does the conservative healthcare culture need to drastically change at some point for significant changes to happen?

MA: I believe AI innovations have potential in all areas of life, especially healthcare. AI will bring life-changing impact in healthcare. From clinical research, diagnosis, drug development, insurance to business processes, many entities will utilize AI tools to reduce cost and improve health outcomes.

Healthcare is a highly regulated industry; therefore it requires a long path. However, we are seeing many innovations within the sector utilizing AI and other emerging technologies. According to a recent PwC survey, one third of healthcare providers are investing in AI and exploring opportunities. Another study by Accenture shows that AI could help address 20% of unmet clinical demand, which is huge in terms of reach to healthcare providers and timely needed for urgent care in hard-to-reach areas. For example, drones can deliver emergency kits and medication, as well as helping attendants to provide first-aid to stabilize a patient in urgent need of medical help.

The culture within healthcare organizations is changing especially as millennials, and Gen Z’s. are coming into the workforce, and they expect to use emerging technologies and AI on a daily daily use.

PS: What is your take on “deep fakes”? Are image and video doctoring algorithms chaos in the making or just novelties?

MA: With every new technology we have seen such challenges where “creative criminals” utilize technology for their advantage. Deep fakes are a real challenge, similar to “fake news” allegations during the last US election. We need to understand that falsification of videos and images is not a new concept, it is older than the advent of video and image editing software. Now using AI and emerging technologies, it just makes deep fake easier. On the other side of the coin, law enforcement agencies are also developing and using AI tools to counter deep fake and other challenges.

PS: Do you think we are a few years removed from AI-powered ride-hailing alternatives? Or is that mostly wishful thinking?

MA: Yes, this will be happening pretty soon. Self-driving buses are operating for over a year in Perth, Western Australia already, Google is testing with Waymo in the US, and Tesla has already introduced an autopilot option, which is AI training and learning module in real-time.

Last summer, while driving, I was talking with my then seven year old son. I asked him “Would you take me around when you start driving a car”? He paused for a few seconds and replied, “No”. I was heartfelt and asked “Why”? He joyfully answered “Because there will be automatic (self-driving) cars and no one need to drive”. This is the expectation from the Generation Z.

PS: Chatbots have made tremendous progress in recent years, the fact some systems can (almost) pass the Turing Test is quite significant. Are they a game changer for customer experience?

MA: The adoption of chatbots is only the tip of the iceberg. It validates the potential for AI products and service offerings; this will extend customer experience into specialized areas. For example, robots are used in senior care facilities in Japan to provide company, provide mobility support and some rehab exercises.

PS: Thanks for your time Mashhood. Any last words before we wrap up?

MA: Be prepared, learn AI and other emerging technologies, adopt and embrace them. Future is exciting for all of us. I would also like to thank you, Phil, for giving me this excellent opportunity. You can also follow me on LinkedIn and visit my website

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Phil Siarri

Phil Siarri

Founder of Nuadox | Tech & Innovation Commentator | Digital Strategist | MTL | More about me>

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