Commentary: The Challenges of AI | AIChE

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Commentary: The Challenges of AI


In a commentary in the July 2020 issue of the Journal of Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (JAMP) (, I wrote about the challenges we experienced with vendors of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions trying to partner with my company to bring AI into the mainstream of chemical manufacturing. I was critical of the approaches used by AI service providers trying to get their foot in the door. It is not only about the tools and approaches themselves; it is about training and culture. Culture, I believe, is the biggest impediment to integrating new ideas and new approaches into the workforce in the age of Industry 4.0.

What is it about culture that challenges the chemical process industries (CPI) workforce to adopt new approaches in analytics and data science? Many proponents would like to assume that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will come knocking on your door. The problem is: The world often does not see the need for a better mousetrap — the mousetraps we have set out now work fine — and it is possible that the workforce does not fully appreciate the technology that made the mousetrap better.

Gaining cultural acceptance of new analytics approaches in this digital age will require four actions: improving the data acuity of the workforce, building proper stories around the improvements achieved, finding...

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