Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging tool that enables us to more effectively integrate information, analyze data, and use the resulting insights to improve decision-making. Extraordinary advances in AI happen every day. For instance, robots and driverless cars are becoming increasingly common.
These technologies are driving a new wave of economic progress, solving some of the world’s most difficult problems and providing solutions to some of the most profound challenges in human history. AI has the potential to transform many sectors such as information technology, telecommunications, transportation, traffic management, health care, education, criminal justice, defense, banking and agriculture. To realize its full potential, governments need to create public policy that fosters AI innovation while mitigating unintended societal consequences.
As these technologies advances more deeply into everyday use, it also raises concerns about possible negative impacts on jobs, personal privacy, society, the economy and politics. Some experts estimate that about half of our jobs will be taken over by automation and robotics within the next 15 years. But if companies need fewer workers due to AI, what happens to the humans who once held those jobs? Without adequate safeguards or the incorporation of ethical considerations, the AI utopia can quickly turn into dystopia.
What is AI?AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence by computer systems. Artificial intelligence is not the same as machine learning—a process by which a computer can learn a skill. AI refers to a computer that can "think" for itself. AI can encompass anything from Google’s search algorithms, to IBM’s Watson, to autonomous weapons.
Predicting an AI futurePwC estimates that “artificial intelligence technologies could increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion, a full 14 percent, by 2030.” A 2017 study from Redwood Software and Sapio Research concluded that 60 percent of businesses can be automated in the next five years.
There are numerous examples where AI is already augmenting human capabilities in significant ways. In stock exchanges, for instance, high-frequency trading by machines has replaced much of human decision-making. AI can be used to solve an array of environmental problems, such as climate change and natural calamities prediction. AI will also take over many hazardous jobs in the future. Several companies are trying to build a robot that can act as a human companion, and China is using AI to improve healthcare and speed up diagnoses.
China dominates in global AI funding and is investing a lot in this futuristic technology for everything from smart agriculture and intelligent logistics to military applications. In the U.S., President Donald Trump is demanding that the Pentagon create a new military service—a “Space Force”—to assure American dominance in space, using AI.
For businesses, AI enables people to use their creativity for verification, validity, security and control. AI is currently used this way in manufacturing, construction, rescue operations, personal security and speech recognition, as well as in customer service and support and as a smart home manager.
The bottom lineNobody can predict what the future will bring, but AI may ultimately create more jobs than it displaces. By offering new tools for entrepreneurs, it may also create new lines of business that we can’t imagine now.
It is quite obvious that interacting with AI will soon become an everyday activity. AI can be used to tackle profoundly difficult problems and find solutions that are important to human wellbeing. These developments are generating substantial economic and social benefits. At the same time, AI poses the greatest ethical challenge we have yet to face. It has the potential to move civilization forward in progressive ways. But the way AI systems are developed needs to be better understood due to the major implications the technology will have for society as a whole.
The possibilities of AI are endless. Its future will be created by us, and it will influence the choices we make and the actions we take. While this revolutionary technology has the potential to become the single most influential human innovation in history, we have no way of predicting how it will behave. But, with appropriate safeguards, we can ensure that AI systems are intentional, intelligent, and adaptable without sacrificing the important qualities that define humanity.
Image courtesy of IBM
Darshan Goswami has more than 40 years of experience in the energy field. He worked as a Project Manager for Renewable Energy, Micro-grid and Smart Grid projects at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in Pittsburgh. Earlier, he retired as Chief (Head) of Renewable Energy Department from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. Mr. Goswami is a registered professional electrical engineer with a passion and commitment to promote, develop and deploy renewable energy resources and the hydrogen economy. In dedication to his life serving humanity and poor people, he supports: <a href="http://www.ifcare.org/">India Foundation for Children Education and Care, Inc</a>.