Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence
We might still be decades away from the superhuman artificial intelligence (AI), like sentient HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but our fear of robots having a mind of their own and acting at their own (free) will and using it against humankind is nonetheless present. Even some of the greatest minds of our time, such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been talking about this possibility.
On a more down-to-earth and practical level, artificial intelligence has already sneaked into our lives. We’ve grown so accustomed to some of the best AI apps,such as Cortana, Alexa or Siri, that we already think of them as our trusted companions that help us run our everyday tasks easily and smoothly.
However, while a catastrophic sci-fi movie scenario is not a thing we should be worried about (at least not at the moment) there are some risks related to AI implementation which are far more tangible and possible.
Read on to find out more about some real-life benefits and risks of AI implementation.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence
By now, all of the industries have opened their doors to the various advancements AI brings. Here are some of the most prominent usages we’re witnessing and will be seeing more of in the years to come, in the digital marketing, healthcare, and finance industry.
AI in Digital Marketing
If you’ve recently used a chat to reach customer service, chances are high you’ve been talking to a chatbot, maybe even without realizing this fact. It may come as a surprise that 40% of customers are fine with both options, as long as they get their issues solved.
Chatbots embody many benefits AI brings to businesses, and are a great example of how it may improve a sensitive and time-consuming matter such as customer service.
Some of the crucial points where you can see the advantages of AI-powered chatbots are:
- Availability. Thanks to AI, customer service can now be there 24/7/365 for customers, so that they can get answers to their questions outside of regular business hours.
- Scalability. As numerous queries can be managed at the same time, customer service can expand to adjust to the needs of customers, without having to hire more employees.
- Fewer errors. AI-powered chatbots can now successfully solve up to 80% of standard customer queries, without human-related errors.
- Personalized interaction. As they monitor and collect customer data, they can use it at any moment to tailor the communication and hyper-personalized it, in a way that can only be imagined by their human counterparts.
Besides chatbots, AI can benefit digital marketing in many different ways, as it can be used to automate many different tasks, such as email and paid ads campaigns. It can also help marketers create more precise buyer personas, predict customers’ behavior and give sales forecasts, help with content creation, etc. These benefits to the e-commerce industry can hardly be measured, as businesses can now always be there for their online customers, assisting them in making their purchasing decisions and helping them navigate their customer journey.
AI in Healthcare
Another noticeable way AI benefits our lives is through its usage in healthcare.
We’ve recently witnessed a win of trained AI over human experts, as AI outperformed six radiologists in reading mammograms and recognizing breast cancer. Images can now be analyzed in a few seconds by the computer algorithm, so the use of AI can significantly improve the speed of diagnosis.
Except in radiology, AI is widely used in digital consultations, on platforms such as Buoy or Isabel symptom checkers, offering remote medical assistance, and suggesting how to see a professional based on their location.
AI in Finance
The advantages of AI have been recognized early by the finance and banking sectors, and the technology is now implemented in the ways beneficial for both parties.
One of the best examples of how beneficial AI in this industry can be, is Erica, a virtual employee of the National Bank of America. Erica has by now served over 7 million customers and managed over 50 million of their requests, helping them with their transactions and budgeting, tracking their spending habits and giving useful advice.
Risks of Artificial Intelligence
As for the potential actual risks of AI nowadays, the one that seems to bring the most concerns is job loss, which in some industries seem inevitable.
AI-powered employees have quite a few advantages when compared to their human colleagues. As they have no personal and emotional responses they’re never exhausted, bored or distracted, not to mention that they are more productive and efficient. Furthermore, their capacity to make errors is significantly reduced.
Such qualities of AI are the most likely to cause layoffs where a lot of tasks can be automated, such as the trucking, food service and retail industry, leading to millions of unemployed and an even higher income inequality.
Another rising concern has been an invasion of privacy. This has already taken place in China, where AI-powered technologies are used for the purposes of mass surveillance, impacting the so-called social credit system.
The system tracks users’ behavior everywhere – it has access to their social media profiles, their financial reports, health records etc. Data collected this way, including jaywalking and failing to correctly sort personal waste can now negatively influence the credit score while donating blood or volunteering can increase it. Negative credit can, for example, ban you from buying plane tickets, or enrolling your kids in certain schools.
Finally, the possibility of using AI capacities for military purposes shouldn’t be neglected, as the idea of having this kind of power concentrated in the hands of any of the world leaders, seems like a genuine threat to the world as we know it.
And while we think about all the benefits and the risks artificial intelligence brings, let’s not forget one crucial point – AI doesn’t set its own goals. The power it has is the power we delegate it to achieve the things we are trying to accomplish, meaning that we’re responsible for both its benefits and its risks.