By: Waleed Alfaris
From chatbots to autonomous cars, AI applications are rapidly transforming industry and society, bringing benefits such as increased efficiencies, new products and less repetitive tasks.
The discovery of electricity was arguably one of the most important in human history. It ushered in a time of invention and evolution of the likes never imaginable to previous civilizations. The invention of electricity, alone, enhanced our efficiency and productivity and enabled us to live in a seemingly perpetual day, as work could go on well after the sun had set because we had a way to illuminate the night. Great minds such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla pushed humanity forwards on a path that permanently changed human lives. Their discoveries were studied and expanded on by so many in the years that followed and they transformed the world time and time again into something we had previously only dreamed of.
Without a doubt, the road that the great minds of the past have taken us down has been of immense benefit, and has led to countless inventions that have allowed us to prosper, expand and evolve for the better. However, there is an argument to be made that none of these discoveries were as impactful as the invention of the computer. And, that none will be as impactful to our future as the invention of artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, some are saying that AI will be the greatest invention of human kind! And that raises an important question: Should we fear it or embrace it?
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI is defined as the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.
Artificial Intelligence has Arrived
The snowballing impact that AI is having and is going to have on society is undeniable. It pervades many industries and its potential benefits have been predicted to double annual economic growth rate in a number of developed economies in the future. It is already integrated into our everyday lives. You can find it in your smart phones, the websites you browse, banks, security systems, customer service, and even in the hiring process of new employees. In the near future, we will see an explosive expansion, as startups for countless applications of AI are already growing at an exponential rate; and we are still very much in the infant stages of AI’s integration into our lives. Leading analytical firms predict that annual AI enterprise software revenue will grow from its 2016 value of $644 million to an astounding $39 billion by 2025. That is a 6,000 percent growth; so it is clear that future business will be conducted in a vastly different manner.
Some of the top companies in the world, such as Google, Apple, Intel, and many automotive companies have been working diligently on the development of self-driving cars. This will result in largely reduced traffic accidents, road congestion, and carbon emissions. Automobile insurance will become a thing of the past, as collisions will become almost non-existent. We may easily end up living in a world where the expenses
involved in car ownership will no longer be an issue, as we may not even own cars. Companies could hold vast amounts of self-driving automobiles that will pick you up and deliver you to your destination via an app on your smartphone. This is something companies like Uber, Lyft, and Careem are already heavily investing in.
Postal and shipping services would see an exponential increase in productivity, as without needing human drivers they could operate 24/7 without a pause. Humans require training, time for sleeping and eating, and can get involved in accidents. All of this equates into huge costs that could be turned into large profits with digital drivers. Packages would be delivered via drones, directly to your front door or office building and they would arrive in half the time. Needless to say, Amazon are already doing this in some parts of the world.
The World of Investment
Stockholders and potential investors have much to gain from the advancement of AI. Currently, human stockbrokers sift through mountains of data and mainly rely on intuition in their decision-making. With AI, large amounts of data could be analyzed at breakneck speeds and it would make significantly more accurate predictions based on proven algorithms. This would result in much higher returns and make it possible for anyone to become an investor. The AI would tell you what companies to invest in, how much to buy, when to hold and when to sell. It could easily identify fraudulent stocks or criminal activities in the market. Not to mention that it would be available at all times of the day, constantly working without rest. This would have a massive impact on the economy and on new, developing, and already established businesses.
These are just some prime examples of how AI can work for our personal and professional lives. There are many more, including predictive maintenance, cyber security, employee recruitment, market research, advertising, accounting and customer service etc. The list can go on, as there is almost no industry that AI cannot help with or take over entirely. And as these systems do not require salary, training, or downtime, they will drastically change the way business is conducted.
It sounds exciting to picture a world where our cars drive us to work, where we greet our cybernetic receptionist, our networks are safe, our meetings are all planned out, and our monotonous tasks are all accomplished for us. However, on the flip side, what happens to all of the people that used to do the jobs that these AI systems are now taking over? It is natural to fear such a thing. But it is important to remember, that just as the development of robots took over the manufacturing industry, they also created new employment opportunities in the field of robotics. As the reach of AI expands, the need for people working towards its development will expand as well, so needless to say we will always need people working on the next generation of AI.
We have so much more to gain by embracing AI than we have to lose by fearing it. Why not fully welcome this world of artificial intelligence and its associated technology and take the path as far as it will lead us.