According to the industry’s predictions, AI will become much more transparent and business-friendly by 2021. New jobs will be created, with many bound to disappear as well. AI assistants will become fully functional. Additionally, artificial intelligence is prognosed to become widely trusted and popular, which will help it achieve its full potential.
The future at your doorstep
The term “artificial intelligence” reminds us of scenes from classic sci-fi movies, such as Terminator or Blade Runner. However, AI has much more to offer than just machines.
Simply put, AI is a simulation of human intelligence, processed by computer systems. We can distinguish four of its types:
- Limited memory – using past experiences to make future decisions.
- Reactive machines, able to identify tasks and make predictions – e.g. “Deep Blue,” IBM’s chess program which beat Garry Kasparov, possibly the world’s greatest chess player ever, in 1997.
- Self-awareness, i.e. a possibility for machines to develop consciousness and decide what to do and when. Such an AI system doesn’t exist yet.
- The theory of mind – a psychological term used to describe the ability to attribute mental states (beliefs, intentions, desires and so on) to oneself, as well as understand that other people’s mental states are different from one’s own. Such an AI doesn’t exist either.
There is a wide range of companies – Amazon, Apple, AIBrain, Banjo etc. – collecting data and working on developing the above-mentioned AI types. Time will tell how far they will go to deliver AI solutions to our doorsteps.
AI in fintech
Financial services, such as marketplaces, are based on secure, reliable and accurate exchanges of information. This is a very dynamic environment where new, AI-driven solutions and automated mechanisms can be more productive and cheaper than their traditional equivalents. For instance, AI can solve various security issues and help with data protection, account verification, chargeback prevention and process automatization etc. This does not mean AI will replace humans at work (at least not straight away) – it will only augment how they work.
AI’s most common uses
The first of these would be automation – programming robots (or androids) to perform high-volume, repetitive tasks instead of humans. There is also machine learning which enables computers to learn how to perform a given task without any prior programming. Machine vision, on the other hand, allows computers to see by capturing and processing visual data from cameras. Another category of AI tech seems complicated, but it’s something we’ve known for many years now. It’s natural language processing (NLP for short), used in spam detection, for instance. Recently, the use of AI in robotics, a field of engineering focused on producing robots and mechanization in general, has received huge attention. Another noteworthy use of AI tech is self-driving cars. These combine AI-based learning mechanisms and computer vision in order to develop automated skills required to drive cars and avoid obstacles.
Taking the above into consideration, several questions come to mind: what can we do with all the different AI technology and how can it be of any use for mankind? To answer these, let’s take a look at the industries where AI can potentially improve performance, as per McKinsey Institute’s report.
Media used to depict AI as extremely advanced supercomputers with cognitive capabilities that are ready to take control over humanity. AI was portrayed as something that always gets out of hand and eventually replaces people in virtually every job and effectively phases them out completely. However, this is not how automation works. Also, you cannot replace human workers in every role, especially a highly specialized one. Machines should be able to help us with trivial, repetitive everyday tasks where human involvement is not really required.
There is also the issue of trust, or the lack of it. People are either unaware of the possibilities offered by AI or misinformed about the technology’s true potential. We tend to be afraid of what we do not understand. Not every business owner is willing to invest in AI or utilize it. Additionally, malfunctioning software is potentially problematic, as identifying the causes of crashes and bugs is not an easy task. A recent example of such a failure is a self-driving car that took the life of a pedestrian due to a malfunction. While there are high hopes for AI tech, we cannot turn a blind eye to integration issues. About 47% of cognitive-aware companies admit that it is difficult to integrate cognitive projects into existing processes and systems. Some firms also deemed the technology (including experts on it) too expensive.
Are we ready?
As mentioned above, the stereotypical portrayal of AI in movies and games might hint that we aren’t ready yet. It seems that we are still distrustful of the technology. For instance, Detroit: Become Human is a recently-released game about a group of androids who rebel against their creators, and the player is able to change their fate. Detroit gives us a vivid picture of things going wrong if we do not keep our fingers on the pulse.
Additionally, people from various fields have expressed their concerns about the future of AI development.
The most popular of these seems to be the late professor Stephen Hawking, who in his book titled Brief Answers to the Big Questions expressed his doubts, warning us in a spectacular fashion of the dangers of AI. He stated that if AI were to develop consciousness at some point, it would mean the end of humanity should our goals not align. During an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Hawkins told the following story:
“Scientists built an intelligent computer. The first question they asked it was, ‘Is there a God?’ The computer replied: There is now.”
AI – a blueprint for coexistence
Some people might come and say that AI will take away jobs from humans, but this only applies to basic tasks and routines. In turn, there will be new opportunities for specialists. AI might become a great tool for the creative-minded – artists, musicians etc. – and its possibilities in this field are almost endless. It might also help businesses analyze data and boost them through intelligent automatization processes.
Let’s admit it – the conversations we can now have with Alexa or Google Assistant seem a bit silly. But the rapidly developing field of AI technology means that soon such discourses will become, perhaps scarily, natural and very life-like, ushering a new era.