Bosch Connected World 2020 – The human unicorn on AI

Unicorns are different, Bosch is different too. Ties, walled garden ecosystems and hierarchies sound like a thing of the past at this year’s Bosch Connected World. Urban smoothies, technological openness and „Menschment“ (instead of management) have taken over. Transformation at Bosch is in progress – not only in a digital sense. And in terms of Artificial Internet-of-Things (AIoT), Bosch nails their business transformation with their new unit Bosch.IO and their human-focussed Artifical Intelligence (AI) codex.

Bosch has a a clear focus: Staying human – in business creation, employee resources, and especially all means of industrial artificial intelligence. Whatever the decision is for companies starting to implement artificial intelligence, humans shall keep control. „Artificial intelligence has to be accompanied by ethics. AI has to serve people. With our AI codex we give our employees a clear guideline for the development of intelligent products“, states Bosch-CEO Volkmar Denner in his opening speech at their big AIoT event Bosch Connected World (BCW) in Berlin. Denner is emphasizing their mission with the statement: „Our aim is to make people trust in AI products“ and his personal note for a more sustainable industry „I believe in the power of technology to balance economical, ecological and societal challenges of the future“.

Humans & AI: Together for a better future

The ambition Bosch has in mind is that people and companies have more trust in its AI products. Guided by their Bosch ethos „Invented for Life“, the company strives to create safe, robust and explainable products, while improving human’s quality of life and looking at sustainable ways to use natural resources. Reading their 3 main guidelines for decision making in AI-based products makes clear that all companies should have a similar approach to AI…

Humans-in-command (HIC)
The AI product is used as a tool and humans get to decide when and how to use it.

Human-in-the-loop (HITL)
Humans can directly change and influence the decisions made by an AI product.

Humans-on-the-loop (HOTL)
Humans can define certain parameters for AI during the design process and can also review any decision that was carried out by the product.

The management team of Bosch made clear that they aim at a partnership of humans and AI, AI is not a human challenger or competitor. Humans shall be able to make use of their decision-making skills through AI, and AI shall enable an optimization and transformation of machines and business processes to drive business efficiency. It’s a hand-in-hand that leverages AI for better industries.

Business driven by hearts

The HR department is further fostering the AI transformation internally. They are training their own employees across all departments via their academy. However, Bosch not only bets on AI. They also encourage change. The company takes change management serious. Maybe it is not happening at the speed of AI. But in a balanced, structured and enjoyable calm program that an ever-changing global workforce is asking for. In her presentation „IoT needs IoP – leading yourself to lead others leads to high performance“ Petra Kama-Welle, Bosch VP Human Resources, made clear that a mindset change in leadership comes with role modelling.

By describing her roles from mother to change manager, Kama-Welle explained that role modelling is the way to escape the former „leadership-in-the-box“ hierarchy mentality in order to path the way from „command and control“ towards „enjoy, growth & perform“. It’s a modern leadership mindset transformation from a heart for hearts to grow hearts. While some companies start to define their business purpose these days, Bosch is already on the purpose road to let hearts drive their business. A bit poetical, I know, but that’s the way unicorns tend to be.

Leveraging the unicorn playground

Maybe one topic at Bosch Connected World can be optimized (definitely not the awesome catering!): the conference program. Selecting the right tracks from five stages with various parallel sessions around business or industry focus, remains a challenge for every attendee. Figuring out how to make your perfect way in a short two days’ knowledge gathering seemed almost impossible. Maybe AI could have helped. Maybe an AI event app, in which you throw in your main tags of interest could have provided a solution here. And maybe a professional moderation is something to think about as well for 2021. But hey, nobody said that unicorns are perfect.

Some show cases made me think, e.g. if Nikola Motor’s Badger, providing nine hundred horsepower out of a battery and fuel cell combination, is really needed in times of sustainability wake-ups. Or if the heat map train app, showing me which cabin is less crowded before accessing the train and notifying me „Mind the gap!“ persuaded me? Probably not. Still, it’s a unique „sensoring“ of decision-making, empowered by AI value. Should I rather trust Lindera and their „Decision Intelligence“ to not stumble at the train station in the future instead?

We will see, which Bosch or other Bosch enabled unicorns will help us in an AI ethical and supportive way in the future, maybe already at the next Bosch Connected World.

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