The Rise of AI: How it’s Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play

23 May 2023 | Blogs

The Rise of AI

Unless you have been hiding under a rock over the last few months, it’s been hard to ignore the rapid progress of Artificial Intelligence (AI). You may have already tested the AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT or seen impressive AI-generated images posted on social media. But this technology hasn’t just appeared overnight; it has been developing over the last decade. One significant milestone achieved was in 2019 when researchers created an AI system that outperformed human radiologists in detecting lung cancer using deep-learning algorithms that interpret CT scans. Then in 2020-2021, the Covid-19 pandemic happened, which accelerated development even further. At this time, it helped researchers speed up vaccine development by analysing enormous amounts of data. As a result, global corporate investments in AI increased by 40 per cent.

So, what is AI? Well, at its most basic, it is a simulation of human intelligence (hence the name artificial intelligence). It allows a computer program to think, generate ideas, use location awareness, understand speech and visuals, and learn independently. Over the last few months, the topic of AI has headlined tech conversations worldwide. It is fast becoming indispensable in our lives, and machines are outperforming humans on many tasks. From self-driving cars to AI-powered virtual assistants, we explore how this incredible technology is revolutionising our lives, the benefits, potential risks, and the huge impact it could have on the economy.

 

Benefits and Challenges of AI

There is currently a lot of debate about the benefits and risks of AI, which is always the case with any technological advancement. So, let’s delve into some of these below.

Benefits:

Reduces human error and risk: Everyone makes mistakes; we are human, after all. But the beauty of AI is that it can eliminate human error and risk. This is because it makes decisions based on information previously gathered by a particular set of algorithms. When these algorithms are programmed correctly, any errors or risks can be reduced to zero.

Available 24/7: Humans are productive for a limited amount of time throughout the day, whereas machines can work 24 hours a day with no breaks. This is super beneficial for some companies where AI-powered chatbots can provide customer service throughout the night or during off-hours. These machines can think much faster than humans and multi-task with accurate results, and they can also easily handle boring and repetitive tasks.

Unbiased decision-making: Whether we like it or not, as humans, emotions drive us. We all have biases that can constantly filter through our decisions. AI, however, has zero emotions and can always take a practical and rational approach. This ensures more equity when it comes to approving loans or selecting job applications, as well as more accurate decision-making.

Challenges:

High costs: A lot of time and resource goes into creating and implementing machines that can simulate human intelligence, which then varies depending on what we need AI to do. Financial analysts estimate Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot, which an OpenAi ChatGBT model powers, requires a minimum of $4 billion of infrastructure to respond to all its users.

Lack of emotion: When we, as humans, make sensitive decisions, we inherently consider all the emotional consequences. AI does not have this ability and, therefore, only makes optimal decisions based on the parameters it has been given. Human kindness and compassion are part of our genetic makeup; even the best AI cannot be programmed to recreate it.

No ethics: Similar to emotion, ethics and morality are essential human traits that can be challenging to incorporate into an AI system. The speed at which it has advanced has raised fears that it could one day become out of control and eventually wipe out humanity. There has also been a lot in the global press about AI’s “risk to society and humanity”. Elon Musk (billionaire investor), Steve Wozniak (Apple) and Andrew Yang (former US presidential candidate) recently wrote an open letter which was posted on the Future of Life Institute website. The letter raises concerns over “contemporary AI systems now becoming human-competitive at general tasks”. The open letter asks for a six-month pause on experiments and has been signed by 1,124 people.

 

How AI is Transforming Businesses

A key area where AI adds value for businesses is using its predictive skills. This helps companies discover new ways to reframe conventional business problems so that AI can leverage machine learning algorithms to evaluate data, identify patterns and experiences and make relevant predictions. In simple terms, it is being used in three significant ways:

  • To develop more intelligent products
  • To improve internal processes and operations
  • To provide smarter services

A study by McKinsey & Company highlighted the level of adoption of AI globally. According to the survey, 20 per cent of respondents said they had adopted AI in at least one business area in 2017, and in 2022, that number rose to 50 per cent. Furthermore, the number of AI capabilities that businesses leveraged also doubled from 1.9 in 2018 to 3.8 in 2022.

The major industries which are now evolving thanks to AI include:

Healthcare: AI is currently being used for a variety of healthcare services, including drug development, medical imaging, robotic surgery, medication management, as well as more precise diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders.

Retail and E-commerce: AI is helping to improve experiences for customers and organisations within the retail and e-commerce industries. Chatbot technology which simulates human-like exchanges online, is helping improve customer service. In addition, it is revolutionising these industries through robotic warehouse pickers, facial recognition payment systems, tailored online shopping experiences and anti-fraud technologies.

Telecommunications: Over 63 per cent of telecom companies are actively implementing AI to improve their network infrastructure and offer their customers the best performance. It also helps power predictive algorithms, which allows companies to predict when problems are most likely to occur.

Automotive: Thanks to AI, vehicles can make intelligent decisions, avoid obstacles, and navigate traffic. It can also improve driver assist systems such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, which makes driving much safer and more efficient. However, self-driving cars have made the most headlines, and based on McKinsey & Company’s sales scenarios, these could become available as early as 2025 in Europe and North America.

Banking & Financial Services: This industry has always been highly dependent on technology and data; however, AI has a huge potential to accelerate innovation in banking quicker than ever before. According to a 2021 Deloitte survey, 86 per cent of financial services AI adopters believe it would be ‘very’ or ‘critically important’ to their business’s success in the next two years. This is apparent now with AI already supporting fraud detection, risk and regulatory management and improving customer experience.

 

AI in Everyday Life

Many of us have used AI daily without truly realising it. Facial recognition, music and media streaming services, and social media feeds all use this technology. Another example is the Apple Watch – a Fall Detection feature is available in later versions that alert a nearby emergency team whenever you fall. In order to detect the fall accurately, artificial intelligence uses data from the accelerometer and gyroscope. You may not realise it, but this AI is saving a lot of lives!

Another example of AI used in everyday life is chatbots, particularly Chat GPT, which seems to have taken the world by storm. Designed to mimic human responses, this bot is used to accomplish various tasks; in fact, people are discovering ChatGPT can do practically anything online. It can write blog posts, generate complex HTML code, give advice, and essentially aims to answer any question you ask. But with a chatbot this powerful, how will this impact employment?

 

Impact of AI on Employment

The impact on employment is one of the biggest concerns about AI right now, especially with the rapid speed at which this technology is progressing. However, while it continues to evolve, it is not yet advanced enough to fully replicate all skillsets required for most jobs. As mentioned above, self-driving cars will take another couple of years to become available, despite the billions invested into the trials, so we do not have to worry about taxis or bus drivers being replaced just yet. Furthermore, we know from the AI challenges listed in this blog that we still need human-to-human interaction – emotions such as kindness, empathy and compassion are all required for nursing, caring, and teaching jobs, and these cannot be programmed. While we cannot ignore that some jobs, such as bank clerks and manual manufacturing, are being replaced by AI automation, new jobs will still be required to sell and oversee this technology. It is important to accept that AI will impact your job, business, or industry in some way; however, this does not mean it will replace you completely.

If used correctly, AI tools and applications can actually enhance our work, such as generating reports, summarising information, drafting outlines and creating images or videos. But the standard of work produced is unlikely to be good enough to rely on as a finished piece of work – this is why your skillset and expertise are still valuable. The key is finding the best way to work with AI rather than fight against it.

 

The Future of AI

While AI technology is still in its infancy, its accelerating speed cannot be ignored. With a current value of 100 billion US dollars, the AI market is expected to grow to nearly two trillion US dollars by 2030. Despite this, experts are split about how much control people will retain over essential decision-making systems. On the one hand, analysts are optimistic because humans have benefited from technological advances throughout history, and new regulations and literacies will help enhance the technology’s shortcomings. But on the other hand, some have concerns about humans losing the ability to exercise judgement or make decisions, primarily due to business, government and social systems becoming more automated.

Whatever your opinion is on Artificial Intelligence, it does have enormous potential to dramatically evolve the global economy. The most important role for us as humans is to make sure the rise of this technology does not get out of hand and is used responsibly and ethically. With proper regulation and guidelines, AI has the potential to transform industries and improve the lives of people around the world.

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