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Innovation, AI, and the art of the possible

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: AI, Innovation

Innovation has always excited me as I’m curious about the new and the bold. Taking a leap of faith into the unknown can feel uncomfortable, but it’s great when that turns into something valuable.

At a recent GovTech conference I was able to hear about some amazing digital transformation happening in other departments from across the world, as well as start-ups, academic institutions and businesses. Here are my top takeaways from the conference that I would like to share:

1. The focus and excitement on the possibilities of AI are still growing.

Advances are rapidly being made and there were some great examples of how AI is being used shared at the summit, particularly across healthcare service delivery. Virtual assistants are used to navigate appointments, accessing advice promptly and supporting check-ups. Health issues can be diagnosed using mobile apps much easier through the use of digital imagery that can be processed using neural network algorithms. This can provide quicker treatment and have great benefits in areas with limited access to medical equipment.

There are many other examples globally where AI and automation are not only making work processes more efficient but are improving quality and guiding decision making. The Product community at Justice Digital are working with the Alan Turing institute to pilot learning in AI ethics, which is key when we think about making safe, sustainable choices around using AI in our products and services. Right now, we are developing collaborative relationships with our data colleagues to test the value of AI.

2. Immersive and augmented environments have a lot of potential.

Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming an increasing part of our daily life, people of tomorrow already operate in a virtual world with identities and relationships virtually formed.

We can already try experiences or products before we purchase them, by briefly encountering them in a virtual existence. VR can help us to see planned future improvements or changes in the physical world, e.g. as part of the development of new housing communities, facilities or other public projects.

The metaverse may be the place where people exist in the future to interact, connect, and even work. Whilst we may find ways in which virtual reality helps enhance experiences and quickly deliver services, I think there will always be a basic need to interact as humans in a physical environment. Will there ever be a world where government services exist in augmented reality and can be accessed and completed by wearing a pair of smart glasses, or through an AR enabled device?

3. We all play a role in building and growing a culture of innovation.

What I have learned is that innovation is not just about technology. Sure, it’s a big component – but it’s also about culture and mindsets too.

Connecting new ideas, new approaches and possibilities of the future to solve problems helps the acceleration of digital transformation and is at the heart of true innovation.

Creating safe spaces where the experimentation of new ideas and technology can take place is something that we can all take part in, and sharing lessons is key to creating even more value.

4. Diverse thinking and perspectives are key.

I have experienced the real benefits of working with experts or others that just sometimes think differently. The greatest innovators and entrepreneurial minds are probably a little unconventional in government, but we should seek them out by bringing in experts, academics, data scientists and more.

The pace of change in digital transformation is hard to keep up with. A huge innovation ecosystem exists out there where you can connect with a start-up, academia, or technology consultants to find out more about the latest trends and ideas.

I’d encourage anyone reading this to be curious – we all need to find ways in which we can feel more comfortable in trying new approaches and experimenting. Even if this leads to failure then that is successful in itself. Learning about what not to do is equally, if not more important, than finding out what to do.

So, try taking that leap of faith with a new idea, solution or an untested approach. Look ahead into the horizon, be curious and see where it takes you.

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