Peeking into the future: What artificial intelligence can and can’t do
What’s in store for all of us in the future is that artificial intelligence (AI) in some form or other is here to stay. In all aspects of our lives. There might be robots at home to help us with chores instead of maids and of course, there will be plenty of AI help in our workplaces. How invasive or pervasive it will get is not predictable. But this market is projected to reach $70 billion by 2020.
Currently, AI is being used in the form of chatbots, digital assistants and machine learning. These are used for assisted intelligence (GPS in cars), augmented intelligence (as used by the likes of Uber, Ola) and autonomous intelligence (driver-less cars, home cleaning robots, etc).
The hope is that these work-in-progress technologies and the ones that are just a pipe dream so far but may become a reality in the future, will free up valuable time for human beings to do more cutting edge work – give them the mind space to think deeper, make better decisions with the help of data generated by AI, and become more creative and imaginative.
What AI can also do is not just fancy hi-tech work. It can do the low-tech stuff too and “has the potential to democratise services like education, law, and financial advice, providing them to everyone in a personalised manner and at a lower cost”, stated a PwC report.
Healthcare sector to benefit the most
Among the 2,500 consumers and business decision-makers surveyed in the report, 63 percent of them feel that AI will benefit mankind and help solve complex problems. Up to 59 percent feel it will help people live fulfilling lives. Some 46 percent feel that it will take away jobs and only 23 percent feel they will become movie-style monsters without hearts that go on a rampage against their human creators. Eighty-seven percent fear that their privacy will be at risk.
But it’s in the healthcare sector, where AI will prove hugely beneficial to all, irrespective of income. It’s already successfully identifying “autism in babies with 81 percent accuracy and skin cancer with 91 percent accuracy. There’s more – as people feel that “AI assistants will be replacing humans as tutors (58 percent), travel agents (56 percent), tax preparers (54 percent), and office assistants (52 percent).” But they are not sure about adopting them as financial advisors, doctors, chauffeurs and house cleaners just yet. 77 percent of the people polled said they still want a human doctor and 61 percent wanted a human teacher, just to keep that human touch in some aspect of their lives.
However, AI is being used in creative ways already. A DoNotPay bot appeals parking tickets for free and Ayannah is a credit scoring service that has provided 87 percent of poor Filipinos with a credit score that they wouldn’t have got because they did not have bank accounts. The RIVA Machine is a robot that fills prescriptions, hence giving pharmacists more time to discuss medications and side effects with their customers. The fact is that what most people consider ideal today is the best of both worlds – 43 percent of millennials and 28 percent of business executives would pay a premium for a hybrid service that has AI along with a human being’s helping hand.
PwC Innovation Lead, Data and Analytics, Anand Rao, said in the report, “In the last few decades, we as mankind have made our systems much more complex. As a result, no one person can cumulatively know what is involved in any given system or solution. Our machines are becoming smarter by learning and embodying the collective experience of mankind, or a group of experts.”
Go along with the wave
So, don’t fight this technological wave, instead, go along with it and the ride might just become super interesting. The reality is that not a lot of business heads are taking this trend quite as seriously as they should. (Graphic: AI2) But if they want to begin somewhere, here’s what they need to do, to be ready for the future:
Make AI operational across business functions and units 24/7.
Currently, business leaders are complacent about risks and need to start becoming responsible about them.
Reinvent your business model and look for opportunities.
Start with the first step: Get on board the AI game. This year’s PwC’s third annual AI Predictions report stated that only 4% of the executives surveyed plan to deploy it enterprise-wide in 2020. Last year, this figure was 20 percent!
Cultivate adaptability and creativity – a sense of wonder and curiosity will also help
Embrace diverse perspectives and collaborate.
On a lighter note, survey respondents felt that by 2025, AI might be able to come up with a top 100 Billboard song, write a hit TV series or create a piece of art that is worth over $100,000. However, AI was unlikely to come up with a New York Times bestseller, writing an Oscar-winning movie and winning a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. It was heartening to note this last point, for sure!