AI used to just be something that existed as fiction in the minds of many but that has changed. It’s now a big part of life in our modern-day tech age with businesses increasingly becoming more aware of its irreversible growth. So substantial has been its growth that business value is now regarded as a product of human input, AI & data. AI is so intricately broad & very diverse. My own definition is the inputting of human-like intelligence into mechanical or computer systems. This is achieved by the use of complex algorithms that enable the systems to process, learn & structure or act on data intelligently.
You’ve Encountered AI Already
Some of you when they hear ‘AI’ they picture robots, well, that’s just one area of AI applications. If you have used any social media platform or particularly Google then you have been subject to AI already. Those platforms use deep or machine learning which is one arm of AI. Facebook has probably suggested someone you actually know as a friend or in the middle of typing in a search phrase on Google it brings up a suggestion that exactly matches what you have in mind. When you type in on Google there is no one somewhere noting your search phrase and then manually processing it; it is a computer program that autonomously does that. Seems quite freaky at times but it’s all ingrained in the embedded algorithms that run these platforms that make them do things that mimic human-like intelligence.
Why Has AI become Such A Big Deal?
AI mainly revolves around big data and deep learning. Global tech giants are intent on collecting data as much as possible – it’s now the most valuable asset. Before the advent of AI most analyses or inferences used to be made using a heuristic approach looking at static data (data that was collected a while back). Many people still use static data, in fact, we all do. This is what makes AI so in-demand because it enables the collection of huge amounts of data, processing it, noting patterns in it, making projections and leading to informed decisions all in real-time.
What’s Being Said Presently?
Surveys continue to show the growing interest most businesses now have in AI. For what it’s worth, all global tech titans such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are investing heavily in the applications of AI in doing business. Projections indicate that the global AI industry will be worth over US$10 trillion within 10 years from now. It has been noted that at least 80% of businesses the world over consider AI to be pivotal in giving them an edge over their competitors.
AI can be in the form of machine learning, decision support systems, automation, and robotics. Customer care, advertising, financial management, and human resources are some of the key domains being redefined by AI. Some of the industries already significantly applying AI are medical, financial services, transportation, and advertising. Just recently China conducted its first remote robotic surgery through the use of 5G technology. Companies like Tesla and Volvo, for instance, already have developed autonomous self-driving tech for their cars or trucks. Tesla even said that the tech is wirelessly uploadable any time to their vehicles the same way you would append a software update for your laptop. Volvo already has a concept truck that can self-drive in underground mine shafts. When Strive Masiyiwa announced the ReImagine Rural challenge he indicated that the loan applications would be processed using their AI software.
They are apparent – namely, improved performance, productivity, accuracy, efficiency & profitability. Another benefit lies in the creation of more productive time for other tasks that can be done manually. All those currently leveraging on AI are outpacing their competitors so that’s a good indicator.
The Rise Of The Machines
Remember the movie ‘Terminator 2: Rise of the machines’. Most experts debunk that fear though – they say it’s too alarmist and impractical. The degree of autonomy is directly proportional to what is programmed into the algorithms, to begin with. So essentially a machine or systems takeover seems unlikely, in theory. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Regulation (Ethical Issues)
Elon Musk has been very vocal about the discordant pace between AI growth and the enactment of AI regulation. He says when authorities eventually awaken to the reality that regulation is important, it might be too late. So there is a credible concern that AI can be abused if not properly regulated.
This is the biggest issue cited by antagonists of AI. I personally acknowledge that some jobs can be lost due to their being replaced by AI. However, as much as jobs can be lost, more jobs can be created. AI is actually opening up new jobs that never existed before. Current jobs can be realigned to new AI-driven operating environments – it’s possible.
Bias & The Black Box Phenomena
The most credible threat is bias; remember the algorithms are developed by humans. The other issue is that of users of the system not being privy to the inner-workings of the system’s DNA. These are great issues of concerns as a lot of shady and biased motives can seep into AI systems.
In light of all this, businesses must position themselves strategically. As a local business if you think AI isn’t affecting your business or never will – think again. Invest in skills development for your human resources so as to ready them for when AI takes center stage. There’s no escaping AI and if wisely tapped into it wields unprecedented benefits for your business.