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The changing face of business – and the part artificial intelligence has to play

Source | World Economic Forum

Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be the single most disruptive technology the world has seen since the Industrial Revolution. Granted, there is a lot of hype out there on AI, along with doomsday headlines and scary movies. But the reality is that it will positively and materially change how we engage with the world around us. It’s going to improve not only how business is done, but the kind of work we do – and unleash new levels of creativity and ingenuity.

In fact, research from Accenture estimates that artificial intelligence could double annual economic growth rates of many developed countries by 2035, transforming work and fostering a new relationship between humans and machines. The report projects that AI technologies in business will boost labor productivity by up to 40 percent. Rather than undermining people, we believe AI will reinforce their role in driving business growth. As AI matures, it will potentially serve as a powerful antidote for the stagnant productivity and shortages in skilled labor of recent decades.

While it is early days, we are already seeing AI’s impact. Combined with cloud, sophisticated analytics and other technologies, it is starting to change how work is done by both people and computers. It’s also changing how organizations interact with consumers, sometimes in startling ways.

AI is flourishing now because of the rise of ubiquitous computing, low-cost cloud services, near unlimited inexpensive storage, new algorithms, and other related technology innovations. Cloud computing along with advances in Graphical Processing Units (GPU’s) has provided necessary computational power. AI algorithms and architectures have progressed rapidly, often enabled by open source software.

Artificial intelligence

Image: Techonomy

Artificial Intelligence is not just one technology, but rather a variety of different sorts of software that can be applied in numerous ways for different applications.

But equally important is a vast increase in the availability of data. AI does not think for itself. Its insights are possible because the software gets fed information, and the more information it gets, the more insight it can produce. Over the last decade, crowdsourced data in particular has proliferated on internet and social media. People in their daily lives upload massive quantities of images, videos, social media comments, and chat dialogues. All that creates labelled data that is available for machines to use in what’s called machine learning.

While many believe that AI will supplant humans, we think it will instead mostly enable people to do more exceptional work. Certainly, AI will cause displacement of jobs, but it may also significantly boost the productivity of labor. Innovative AI technologies will enable people to make more efficient use of their time and do what humans do best – create, imagine and innovate new things.

With technology overall and AI in particular, the key ingredient for success and creating value is taking a “people first” approach. But to make this transition means both companies and governments must acknowledge the challenges and change how they behave. They must be thoroughly prepared—intellectually, technologically, politically, ethically and socially.

Governments and businesses will need to take several steps, many of which are not easy:

-Prepare the next generation. Re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills required for the future, and address the need for education and training. AI presents the opportunity to prepare an entirely new sort of skilled and trained workers that do not exist today. This training should be targeted to help those who are disproportionately affected by the coming changes in employment and incomes.

-Advocate for and develop a code of ethics for AI. Ethical debates, challenging as they will be, should be supplemented by tangible standards and best practices in the development and use of intelligent machines.

Read On…

 

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