In a separate article, I will look at the impact of Artificial Intelligence on jobs. I have also recently looked at the impact of technology, more broadly, on jobs in the future.
AI is the discipline concerned with computer software making intelligent decisions, reasoning and problem solving.
This definition relates to “strong AI” where computers are intended to perform functions in a flexible manner – like the human brain. However, the AI that will be affecting our lives in the coming decades can be described as “Weak” AI. This is the AI that will be performing simple tasks more efficiently than humans can.
“Weak” AI is the AI that will be affecting our lives soon – performing simple tasks more efficiently than humans can.
Examples of the type of jobs will be impacted are:
- Air-traffic control systems that determine flight plans and choose the optimal landing gates for airplanes;
- Logistics applications that help companies route their trucks to save time and fuel;
- Loan-processing systems that assess the creditworthiness of mortgage applicants;
- Speech-recognition software that can handle incoming calls and provide automated customer service;
- Digital personal assistances that search multiple data sources and provide answers in plain English, like Apple’s Siri.
A number of developments, occurring together, are making AI a reality in today’s workplace.
AI has been a work in progress for decades now. The applications above are now becoming possible, because of developments in:
- Ongoing increases in computer processing power – enabling the neural networks that underpin AI, to learn more deeply by analysing vast anounts of data at the same time;
- The amount of data, and data storage are also rapidly expanding – meaning that we can cost effectively store the vast amounts of data needed to teach neural networks effectively.
Looking ahead, the following developmnents are likely to emerge:
- As Artificial Intelligence becomes more advanced, AI systems will be more widely adopted by business – over time, the application of AI will become another ‘new norm’ instead of a novel new technology;
- Artificial Intelligence will improve the productivity and accuracy of knowledge workers – though, for the forseeable future – AI will supplement the work of professionals, making them more effective, and not replace them;
- Artificial Intelligence will revolutionise the prevention and trreatment of diseases and other medical conditions. IBM’s Watson is an early example of such a system. Gartner estimate that life expectancy will increase by 6 months thanks to the use of wireless health monitoring technology.
- AI will perform many tasks that can be automated with algorithms, but it won’t be able to mimic the inherently human qualities of human workers. Whilst AI might be able to perform many tasks more efficiently, humans will be needed to make a connection with other humans.
- AI development will be dramatically enhanced by other, related, technologies. These include biochips, quantum computing and the Internet of Things.
- AI cannot be left to develop unchecked. Strong AI will lead to computers that advance and learn on their own, becoming more independent and progressively smarter. They could reach a point where they advance beyond our ability to control them. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk have all expressed their concerns about the risks of AI.
Sources: “What is Deep Learning”. https://developer.nvidia.com/deep-learning
“Deep Visual-Semantic Alignments for Generating Image Descriptions.” http://cs.stanford.edu/people/karpathy/deepimagesent/
“IBM’s Watson computer can now do in a matter of minutes what it takes cancer doctors weeks to perform.” http://uk.businessinsider.com/r-ibms-watson-to-guide-cancer-therapies-at-14-centers-2015-5?r=US&IR=T
“Bill Gates, Like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, Worries About Artificial Intelligence Being a Threat.” http://www.techtimes.com/articles/29436/20150129/bill-gates-like-stephen-hawking-and-elon-musk-worries-about-artificial-intelligence-being-a-threat.htm