The future is AI... or is it?

Business | Published:

THERE have been many predictions for a world embedded with AI, some of them painting a picture of a dystopian society where AI and robotics take over. We have all seen what happens when you allow the Terminator to be created.

Doug Belford, Next Generation IT. (25051351)

Personally, I will begin to worry when I don’t have to reinstall my printer every time I restart my router and when Alexa does what I ask first time.

I am not belittling the progress AI has made thus far. On the contrary. Look at how far things have come in the last 10 years.

In the home we have our personal assistants that will take direct spoken orders, set reminders and help with shopping lists. These personal assistants can even integrate with smart-home devices to help manage lighting, heating and home security.

In the workplace there are similar leaps in development that AI pioneer Kai-Fu Lee predicts will not only remove some of the manual jobs such as delivery driving and warehouse work, but also many ‘white-collar’ tasks in fields such as accounting, health care, marketing, law, hospitality and other areas.

We can already see that document processing AI is reducing admin costs and mundane re-typing. Tata Consultancy Services reported in 2017 that 44% of 835 companies use AI to monitor servers and network traffic in order to detect and alert network engineers to cyber intrusions.

The service industry is already making inroads into replacing customer service with ‘chatbots’ to answer customer questions. These are very wide ranging – from the Tampa Bay ice hockey team (an AI chatbot named ‘Thunderbot’) to Robot Lawyer LISA (Legal Intelligence Support Assistant) that can create a non-disclosure agreement without any human lawyer input.

However, when faced with the question ‘Are AI and robotics taking over?’ some leading authorities in the field are saying ‘no’.

Amazon’s Tye Brady has recently stated that he believes humans will not be completely replaced in Amazon’s warehouses. He sees a ‘symphony of humans and machines working together, you need both’.

Although Kai-Fu Lee envisions the replacement of many white collar tasks he recognises that humans use emotions. AI can’t build trust, motivate a team or emote with humans, so it stands to reason that we wouldn’t want AI-driven robot teachers, nurses or company directors.

The real game-changer is going to be quantum processing. When that sort of processing power becomes more widely available… you’d better hold onto your hat.

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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