We’ve only just scratched the surface of artificial intelligence – Interview with Peter van der Putten of Pega


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Today’s interview is with Dr Peter van der Putten, who is Director of the AI Lab at Pega and assistant professor of AI at Leiden University in The Netherlands. I caught up with Peter at the recent PegaWorld to talk about his highlights from the event, how to think about AI using a left/right brain thinking metaphor and what’s coming next in the enterprise AI space.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Listening and taking action at scale – Interview with Ron Secrist of Citi and Christina Sansone of Dish – and is number 508 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders who are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here are the highlights of my chat with Peter:

  • Pega’s left brain, right brain framing of how to think about artificial intelligence (AI) originates with Peter.
  • AI is a bit of a nebulous concept.
  • Generative AI has almost become synonymous with AI. But it’s not that. It’s only one tool in the toolbox.
  • There are a lot of developments in the space right now, but the question we should be asking is where do we want generative AI to go?
  • If our aim is to create an autonomous enterprise (a self-driving business, much like a self-driving car, where the human is still in control, but the self-driving car or the self-driving enterprise is optimizing towards specific goals), then it becomes actually quite easy to answer the question what Gen AI is going to be, or what it should be.
  • Three stages to think about:
    • Category one is where there’s one request that goes out to the Gen AI, and you get an answer returned, and that’s it.
    • The next step is where we give it a bit more agency. We have this thing we call Knowledge Buddy, which is basically what AI people call a Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) system, and we can ask questions about a particular domain or topic. For example, say I lost my credit card, and I’m a Rabbank customer, and I want to have an answer about what I need to do as a Rabobank customer if I lose my credit card. In this instance, we give the Gen AI a tool. We give it a search engine and some relevant content (documentation) and ask it to formulate an answer based on that search. That’s stage two, where we give it one or two tools but in a very scripted manner.
    • Now, then you can see where we go, when it becomes more autonomous. Why stop at one or two tools? Why not give it many different tools? But then, of course, it needs to figure out how to use what kind of tool to reach a certain goal. So then you’re really talking about Gen AI, which is more agentic, which has more autonomy.
  • We’ve only just scratched the surface of artificial intelligence.
  • As for the next wave…look out for multi-agent systems.
  • We can use the power of generative AI to let these multi-agent systems operate in a particular environment, make plans, communicate with each other, et cetera, et cetera.
  • There’s a lot of potential in that area, but that’s opened up through generative AI.
  • There’s also other kind of technologies that are starting to gain more traction. Like process mining, how do I uncover inefficiencies in business processes, for example?
  • We must recognize there’s a bit of a capability gap in terms of understanding.
  • It’s important to do AI literacy in an enterprise context, but also in a societal context.
  • Peter’s best advice: Read Pega’s AI Manifesto – which has nine guidelines for delivering responsible and impactful AI.
  • Peter’s Punk XL brand: Rabobank

About Peter

Dr Peter Van Der PuttenPeter van der Putten is assistant professor of AI, Leiden University and Director AI Lab at Pegasystems. Through his expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Peter helps leading brands to become more ‘human’ by transforming into customer centric organizations. In addition to his role at Pegasystems, Peter is an assistant professor and creative researcher at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), Leiden University, The Netherlands.

He is particularly interested in how intelligence can evolve through learning in man or machines. Peter has an MSc in Cognitive Artificial Intelligence from Utrecht University and a PhD in data mining from Leiden University and combines academic research with applying these technologies in business. He teaches  New Media New Technology  and supervises MSc thesis projects.

Feel free to connect with Peter on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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