When you think of artificial intelligence (AI), what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Aliens? Synthesisers? You might automatically think of films such as Terminator or Her and TV programmes such as Channel 4’s Humans – each personifying an idea of what it is to be artificially intelligent. For many people, this is enough information for them to grasp the basic concept of AI, although in reality, it is much harder to understand. But with the development of Tianhe-2 in China and the introduction of IBM’s cognitive computing system, Watson, the world around us is subtly changing in a way that puts a huge question mark on what the future of humanity holds.
As a starting point, there are three progressive advancements of AI, being ANI, AGI and ASI…
Most of us are already well acquainted with Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) such as Siri, mobiles, email filters and car navigators. This form of AI, also known as Weak AI, is programmed to specialise in one just area.
Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is what scientists and thought leaders believe will exist by 2040: a computer that is just as smart as a human in all aspects of planning, reasoning and solving problems. And that’s only 25 years from now.
Skip forward another 20 years to 2060 and we may see irreversible revolutionary change with the creation of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI): a computer that is much smarter than a human brain and could well well lead to life on Earth (as we know it) changing forever.
To gain a deeper understanding of this potentially life-changing technology advancement, scientists, futurists and leading experts in the field of technology and evolution such as Ray Kurzweil, Vernor Vinge and Nick Bostrom have researched and predicted many potential outcomes. Director of Engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil, predicts that the human species itself will soon become artificially intelligent – referring to mechanical organs, ultra-efficient blood cells and even not needing a heart to survive – but his notion that we will all become hybrids by 2030 may seem overly optimistic.
Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and researcher at the University of Cambridge, warns that we need to be braced for the impending change that AI will bring and need to start considering now what could happen once it surpasses the intelligence of the human brain. Paypal and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has expressed similar views. They both believe there needs to be more effort made to analyse the developments of AI and how it will affect society and the safety of our species. If artificial intelligence is to eclipse human intelligence and capabilities, what will this mean for the job markets and other areas of human society?
There may even be a chance to cure diseases and avoid mortality and extinction – but what will these advances mean for businesses?
In the finance sector, Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots, observes that 70% of equity trades are achieved through algorithms, significantly diminishing the need for a human workforce. Another sector that has already felt the impact of advanced automation is agriculture, where the proportion of the workforce employed across England and Wales has dramatically reduced from 6.6% in 1871 to 0.2% today – a 95% decline.
To counteract the threat of a jobless world for humans, there are cases whereby labour and technology are complementary in their relationship. This is evident in specialised professions such as medicine and more creative job roles in marketing and design. In these sectors, technology is aiding productivity and accelerating results, in turn creating more jobs.
The application of technology in a knowledge-intensive economy also allows professionals such as accountants and consultants to automate many basic or routine tasks, freeing up time to focus on a broader range of potential work and business progression.
Furthermore, the thought of artificial intelligence taking over laborious jobs such as window cleaning or structural building work, which can be mundane and often dangerous, doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea. According to a study by Deloitte, increases in innovation have generated a rise in disposable income as prices of services and goods decrease. In turn, this has resulted in the creation of more jobs, most prominently within the hospitality and grooming sectors as people gain more leisure time to spend in bars and at the hairdressers.
Another industry already facing imminent transformation from the rise of artificial intelligence is Facilities Management. This interdisciplinary field, which focuses on people, place, processes and technology within the built environment, encompasses jobs such as security, landscaping, front of house, cleaning and catering solutions. With AI initially poised to claim low-skilled jobs such as these, the sector is already working out how it will need to adapt and assimilate these changes to provide faster, more effective services.
The idea that artificial intelligence will give way to a revolutionary world which may or may not include human life is a scary thought – but with advancements quickening in pace, ensuring AI is programmed responsibly in order to maximise the benefits and avoid disaster is vital as we watch this next stage of evolution unfold.
To find out more about this fascinating subject area, make sure you catch Katie’s presentation at 10.20-10.50am, setting the scene for the new BizTech LIVE event…
FREE ENTRY WHEN YOU REGISTER ONLINE
BizTech LIVE is an exciting new event designed to help business owners and managers to identify and understand the key technologies that will benefit their business. Entry is free of charge for all visitors to Kent 2020 Vision Marketing LIVE and Kent 2020 Vision Start-Up LIVE on 20th October.
About Katie King
Featured regularly on BBC TV and radio, and across Kent media, Katie King is the founder of strategic marketing consultancy Zoodikers, a trainer and conference speaker, including the well known TEDx forum.
Katie has advised numerous small businesses as well as major brands, schools, Universities and the Public Sector.
Katie is the South East and East Anglia chairperson for the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), regularly training other marketing agencies on topics surrounding digital transformation.
You can follow her on Twitter @katieeking.