Should robots be given ‘personhood’ status? That was the topic being debated by the European parliament earlier this month, along with whether or not a kill switch should be added in case there is a terminator style uprising. Does this mean that robots and machines are slowly taking over?

Don’t panic. There hasn’t been a machine uprising. Not yet anyway.

You may be thinking that the likes of robots, smart machines and artificial intelligence is something you might only read about in Sci-Fi novels or see in films, but actually, artificial intelligence and smart machines are nothing new. In fact, they have already begun to seep into our lives, impacting how we live, work and entertain ourselves.

By 2021, Gartner are predicting that the use of artificial intelligence and smart machines will become mainstream in business operations, and that 30 per cent of large enterprises will be implementing smart machines into their organisation in the next five years.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence?

In its basic form, AI is machines exhibiting intelligence. For example, we have voice powered personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa, but we also have cleverer technologies such as behavioural algorithms and self-driving cars that have powerful predictive capabilities.

While this technology is still in its infancy, there are already companies out there that have begun using AI to improve efficiency in the workplace and improve processes.

Here are four examples of how organisations have already begun using AI:

  1. The NHS

The NHS is currently trialling an artificial intelligence chatbot on their 111 non-emergency helpline. The chatbot, which has been created by Babylon Health, encourages people to enter their symptoms into the app. The app will then use a large medical database so that users will receive a tailored response. Being trialled for 6 months in North London, the NHS are hoping it will reduce pressure on the NHS, especially in the winter months.

  1. Ocado

The online supermarket, Ocado, are in the process of building a computer vision system and a network of 4G connected robots in order to replace barcode scanning in its warehouses. They are hoping that by using smart machines, they can improve the warehouse and delivery operations, as well as speed up the packing process.


In order to improve customer interactions,, the business card website, have started using an artificial intelligence software called AnswerDash. A self-service support tool, it uses data to give contextual support to customers in their online journey, and reduce their dependency on call centres.

  1. Royal Free Hospital

Working in partnership with Google’s DeepMind, Royal Free Hospital have built a mobile app that helps hospital staff monitor patients with acute kidney injuries. Using data content applications, the hospital is hoping it will bring significant benefits to doctors and nurses, and make their job easier.

At the moment, we are barely touching the surfaces of what artificial intelligence can do, but if predictions are correct from Gartner, it won’t be long until smart machines and artificial intelligence start taking centre stage in business operations…including perhaps even replacing staff members with robots.

Do you agree? SCS Technology would love to hear what you think on Twitter @SCSTechnology.