Artificial Intelligence is the New Business as Usual
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Artificial Intelligence is the New Business as Usual

“Artificial Intelligence is already everywhere. From Amazon product suggestions to Google auto-complete, AI has invaded nearly every aspect of our lives.” The article, published on Big Think, titled, Will true AI turn against us? Will AI become an existential threat to humans?, clearly highlights that in this age of the internet, artificial intelligence (AI) has been with us for some time. The future AI presents will be explored later.

At this point, we are beyond the late twentieth century science fiction predictions of artificial intelligence and instead are living in the age of AI. According to Rockwell Anyoha, in an article published by Harvard University: “We now live in the age of “big data,” an age in which we have the capacity to collect huge sums of information too cumbersome for a person to process.”

The reality is that AI is not an entirely new thing. Numerous sources point to the fact that imagining the concept of computers and machines learning, thinking and acting independently dates as far back as the 1950s. It has slowly crept into technologies we use daily and thus take for granted.

Justin Burr, part of the Google AI team, in a 19th of January 2023 blogpost titled, 9 ways we use AI in our products, explains: “When Google was founded, most searches happened on computers in homes, computer labs or libraries. Twenty-five years later, AI is making it possible to search in new languages, with new inputs (like searching with your camera, or even humming a tune) and even multiple inputs at once.” Where we find ourselves today, with numerous other examples to cite, has been in development for years, as Burr explains: “We’ve been developing AI for more than two decades. Some of our most popular products at Google — like Lens and Translate — were built entirely using artificial intelligence technologies like optical character recognition and machine learning.”

As exciting and as meteoric as the discussion on AI seems to be, for many it is scary.  I referred to some of these fears in a prior piece, published on the 16th of November 2021, titled,  The Fourth Industrial Revolution And Artificial Intelligence – It Will Impact Your Future. At the forefront of these fears, is the impact AI will have on employment and financial security: “…a report by McKinsey and Company, released on the 28th November 2018 found that: “We previously found that about half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using currently demonstrated technologies. Very few occupations—less than 5 percent—consist of activities that can be fully automated.””

Added to this as well, is the concern that AI will become self-aware and eventually violently turn on its human creators and handlers as predicted by works of science fiction such as The Matrix series of films or the Terminator series of films.

The question however is, how sophisticated is AI, is it as powerful and this major threat we anticipate, or is it, like any other human tool, useful in the right hands and under the right circumstances?

Max Tegmark, a Physicist and Authur of Life 3.0, in the video accompanying the Big Think post titled, Will true AI turn against us? Will AI become an existential threat to humans? provides some insight.

In describing the fundamental difference between human intelligence as opposed to artificial intelligence, he explains: “Humans on the other hand have a remarkably broad intelligence. A human child can learn almost anything, given enough time. Even though we now have machines that can learn and sometimes learn to do certain narrow tasks better than humans, machine learning is still very unimpressive, compared to human learning. For example, it might take a machine tens of thousands of pictures of cats and dogs until it becomes able to tell a cat from a dog, whereas human children can sometimes learn what a cat is from just seeing it once…  There are machines that are better at accomplishing some goals, but absolutely not all goals. AGI, Artificial General Intelligence, that’s the dream of the field of AI, to build a machine that is better than us in all goals. We are not there yet.”

Ultimately, we are very far from having AI overlords, if ever, but what is inevitable is the growth and development in the space. The question therefore is, how does AI then influence the future of business?

The most two important observations in relation to AI is that it is here to stay, and businesses need to adapt to its existence and incorporate it where applicable.

Website, TechTarget, showcases “15 top applications of artificial intelligence in business”. The article sets the scene: “The use of artificial intelligence in business is now mainstream, with many organizations using AI as a standalone technology for specialized use cases or embedding it within common enterprise software systems that handle core business processes.”

Two examples out of the fifteen listed AI applications in business, in the article, could have universal application across all industries:

Automating routine cognitive work

Organizations for years have used AI to automate many manual tasks, such as data entry. Now they’re using next-generation intelligence such as generative AI to handle cognitive tasks such as summarizing reports and drafting communications.

AI for leveling up workers

Even when tasks can’t be automated, experts said AI can still aid workers by offering advice and guidance that helps them level up their performance.” An example of this application is: “… Grammarly and similar services that use AI to not only catch misspellings in text but to correct grammar and offer preferred phrasings to improve a user’s writing.”

Nothing can stop human technological progress and as cliched as it may be, not adapting to AI in the world of business, could lead to your business being left behind. Be a follower or a leader.