Benefits of AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise – and not just in the form of smartphones or self-driving cars. What was just theory 10 years ago has now become reality, and there are no signs of it slowing down – especially since AI spending is expected to reach $46 billion by 2020, according to Forbes.

However, AI is not just about building humanoid robots. By its very definition, artificial intelligence involves programming machines in a way that provides them the ability to think on their own and to keep learning – exactly like humans. We already use, and benefit, from AI in a number of ways; think personalized results with Google, virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa that do our bidding through simple voice commands or even your basic GPS for calculating optimal routes.

Beyond our daily lives, AI is paving the way for new technologies in the world of business. For modern businesses, incorporating AI or related technologies such as blockchain, into their products or operations is the next step in evolution. For example, around 61% of marketing professionals surveyed by MemSQL pointed to AI and machine learning as their company’s most significant data initiative in 2019.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of artificial intelligence, including task automation, cost saving, and automated communication. However, common risks associated with AI include how it will raise unemployment, advance dangerous autonomous weapons systems, etc.

Read on to see where AI might stand in the future, and how related technologies like blockchain – known to be one of the most secure, democratic, and tamper-proof ways of storing information – will converge for better outcomes.

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

Saving Time – Task Automation and Reducing Errors

Both AI and blockchain are technologies that serve to minimize labor-intensive and non-trivial tasks through automation in complex analytical processes – with great outcomes. According to a study conducted by PwC in 2018, AI-based automation will increase the GDP of the US to $15 trillion by 2030, according to Reuters – especially since it can take over admin tasks like creating personalized emails or sending invoices, leaving employees with more time to focus on productive tasks.

Another great example of how AI is currently automating tasks and reducing human error can be observed in the field of accounting. The advantages of artificial intelligence in accounting include AI-based prediction tools that can examine cash flow, or other software used to efficiently manage client expense policies.

Cost Reduction and Increased Efficiency

Efficiency and cost reduction are amongst some of the benefits of artificial intelligence. For example, AI-based CRMs allow marketers and salespeople to maximize their lead generation and retention efforts within budget, by providing relevant insights based on customer feedback. Overall, IDC estimates that AI-powered CRM activities will boost global business revenue by $1.1 trillion, increase productivity by $121 billion and lower expenses through automation by $265 billion!

Automating Communication

To a great extent, the business world has already embraced AI to automate tasks such as customer communication. One of the most prominent use cases of AI in business is chatbots, which can automatically initiate conversations with prospects, show relevant messages, and answer queries – round the clock! These chatbots not only streamline the sales process but are predicted to save costs upwards of $8 billion annually by 2022.

As more products like Google Duplex are introduced in the market, artificial intelligence’s benefits to society will only increase. Currently restricted to automated appointment setting, in the future, Google Duplex could be used to automate entire industries such as call centers.

Changing the Capital Investment Landscape

The benefits of artificial intelligence are not restricted to self-driving cars or automated chatbots. As 75% (according to WSJ) of all venture-backed startups fail, AI algorithms will allow investors to make more informed decisions. Hence, within the scope of capital markets, AI can be used to mine and analyze historical data such as revenue growth, industry experience, market size, etc. to predict a startup’s success.

Negative Effects of Artificial Intelligence

Rise of Unemployment

Of the various negative effects of artificial intelligence, the most commonly cited is an obvious rise in unemployment. According to the above-mentioned study by PwC, about 30% of jobs will be automated by 2030 and about 44% of workers – especially those with a low level of education – will be at risk of losing their jobs. Hence, people are justifiably afraid of being replaced by AI, as it can consistently perform the same tasks, with lower chances of error.

Development of Autonomous Weapons System

Autonomous weapons systems are fast moving from the drawing board to actual battlefields, and are described as the 3rd revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms. This has naturally raised concerns and questions like what will happen if these weapons systems fall into the wrong hands? Could these weapons trigger a destructive AI war, much like nuclear warfare?

According to a report by ICRAC, these fears are further exacerbated due to a lack of scientific evidence – specifically, there is a concern that robotic weapons will never have the ability to accurately identify targets, or make appropriate decisions regarding proportional use of force, thus causing high collateral damage.

AI Data in the Wrong Hands

Currently, there are 26.66 billion (according to Statista) connected IoT devices in the world – and this number is expected to rise to 75.44 billion by 2025! These gadgets – including smart TVs and fitness gadgets – continuously read and retain personal information, often without duly informing users. In the wrong hands, this data could be extremely revealing – even dangerous.

Most tech giants, including manufacturers, do not provide information on where the data is being stored, or how it is being collected or protected. In essence, such risks necessitate a major change in how cybersecurity is approached not only in organizations but also in our personal lives.

AI can be Unpredictable

A more immediate fear, than killer robots attempting to manipulate our timeline, is how AI would disrupt our geopolitical or other systems. These concerns stem from real life incidences – for example, the 2016 presidential elections in the US are said to have been greatly influenced by Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm – especially since 126 million Facebook users saw divisive content posted by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian backed group. Hence, despite its increasing adoption, the fact is that AI is still a developing field, and we can’t accurately predict its future outcomes.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

We believe that the future of artificial intelligence revolves around its various applications, such as fully automated and lifelike Human-to-Machine interaction, elimination of basic tasks, etc. The many benefits of artificial intelligence to the society also include leaving us free to concentrate on more creative aspects of our work, while machines take over all tedious tasks in the future – including data entry and answering emails.

AI is also set to play a significant role in medical research and diagnostics. Currently, diagnostic errors are said to cause over 10% of patient deaths and cost the US economy $750 billion each year. With the application of AI in medical diagnoses and treatment, these numbers are expected to decline significantly – signaling better healthcare in the future.

Another important point in the future of AI is how it will converge with related technologies like blockchain. Combining technologies like AI and blockchain will serve to enhance both. For example, an emerging field of AI working towards processing data in the encrypted form will inadvertently affect data security and blockchain – especially since blockchain databases hold only encrypted information.

Conclusion

While the benefits of artificial intelligence include automation leading to time-saving, reduction in human errors and more streamlined processes, the negative effects of artificial intelligence should not be overlooked.

While we can say that the AI revolution is not coming, it is already here. However, it is also important to understand that AI is a double-edged sword – in the right hands, and used for the right purpose, it can do more good than harm.