While out at the Apple store, I couldn’t help but gravitate toward the new Apple phone. As I stood there holding this device that’s capable of facial recognition and supporting augmented reality applications, I realized this is way more than another fancy new device to give your selfies a few more filters. This is the next thing. The thing to make old smartphones look downright dumb. This is artificial intelligence being put into the collective hands of the world for the first time on a mass scale, and that is HUGE.
While most of the talk (and anxiety) surrounding AI has been from a political standpoint in regard to military uses of autonomous weapons, there is also merit in discussing how this technology can affect other sectors. Even if a business is not tied to the government or military, AI and technology infrastructure investment is the key to building a stronger workforce and company.
Why is Artificial Intelligence So Important?
Current AI is the process of giving human-like intelligence to technology and machines, which has given us such innovations as handwriting, speech, and facial recognition, among many other things we use every day. However, AI isn’t stopping there, as the future of artificial intelligence will strive to create machines that are able to create artificial intelligence themselves.
This future AI has the potential for an extraordinary impact on how we do business, our health, and the way we live our very lives. Because AI is closely linked with understanding how the human brain works, advancements in this technology could lead to revolutionary treatments for brain disorders and injuries. This also means more jobs and tasks being given over to machines with the ability to “think” like a human being.
Risks Associated With AI: As with most new technology, there is concern over its impact on society and the role it will play in our lives. Along with the threat of autonomous weapons, one of the primary concerns researchers face is safely developing AI so that it does what we need it to.
Currently, AI is used more for tasks that are important but not necessarily life-or-death situations. As we hand more difficult tasks over to technology, such as driving cars, running automated trading systems, and controlling medical devices, it becomes imperative that the machines act as they’re intended to minimize risks of disastrous consequences.
Why the Benefits Outweigh the Risks: AI will likely make even more jobs obsolete, but it is also likely to create different jobs and eliminate the threat of dangerous work humans currently do. An example of this would be robotic welding.
The fact of the matter is that most of the information found on jobs and AI focuses on the negative aspects because that’s what people are conditioned to want to hear because it supports what they already know. However, there is already a range of new positions that have been formed because of this technology. This includes new marketing positions, sales, support, and leadership roles. Increasing innovation and AI budget could not only save a company but also increase the number of jobs it can provide. Other benefits, according to Forbes, include:
- Within the next two decades, AI could increase productivity by up to 40% by making jobs easier and more intuitive.
- Economic growth will also happen across a wide range of industries due to AI. Industries most benefited will be communications, financial, manufacturing, and information.
- Education, food services, hospitality, and construction will gain the most profit.
Integrating and Benefitting from AI in Industry
While the days of potentially having super-intelligent robots in our everyday lives are a long way off, there is a wide range of useful ways to integrate and benefit from AI in industries now, including:
- Incorporate Software with Cognitive Abilities: Many well-known companies, such as Oracle and SalesForce, are already adding an AI component to their software. These advancements will make it easier to track sales, process customer emails, and run CRM. Purchasing this software will provide access to customer support to increase success in using it and reduce the time associated with developing from scratch.
- Start Small: If the benefits of AI software are still unclear for a particular business, cognitive technology can be employed on a single project versus integrating it throughout the company. For example, a medical facility may forgo using AI in the treatment of patients but could still use it to help manage appointments and billing to reduce costs and increase accuracy.
- Chatbots: Make customer support easier, drive sales, and save money by using a chatbot on a website. These are considered medium-level AI, and they use natural speech patterns to interact with customers when they visit a site. Mobile sites can especially benefit from these since users are more inclined to interact with a chatbot on mobile devices.
- Incorporate AI into Existing Software and Applications: Sometimes, it’s not about implementing an entirely new system or overtaking a complete process with innovation; it’s often a matter of using technology to automate portions of existing capabilities. For example, several smaller tasks that are used for analytics or customer relationship management can be pulled together to become more autonomous.
- Make Use of Open Source Software: Major players like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and many others offer a range of free cognitive software to develop customized AI. However, it’s important to note that while open-source software is free, the labor cost for working with it will be higher since those who are capable of using these libraries are not easy to come by. Depending on the company, its access to these workers, and what kind of AI is trying to be accomplished, it could be more beneficial to buy existing cognitive software. And, as with any infrastructure investment, it’s important to weigh the time costs against the financial costs to determine the real value of a free application versus the cost of purchasing.
Ultimately, no matter where a company starts, the important thing is that AI and innovation investment is made a priority because it is likely the only way to stay competitive. Starting the investment now will also prepare a business for future needs and potentially make it possible to develop AI that is specifically geared towards an individual company which will allow for better service, faster growth, and greater overall company health.