Artificial Intelligence — How will AI change our world and what rules do we need?
The smartphone has changed our lives fundamentally. Our professional and private world are more interconnected than ever before. Today, an iPhone already enables the use of and communication with artificial intelligence, such as Siri, Google search or even the automatic alert, at what time you have to leave for the next appointment, taking into account the current traffic situation, are just a few examples. We already carry AI with us every day, for our professional and private lives.
The simultaneously occurring advances can be seen, especially in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Deep Learning. But also, applications in nearly every single area are nowadays affected by disruptive technologies: Internet of Things, robotics, self-driven cars, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, wearables, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy storage as well as quantum computing.
These technologies blur the traditional boundaries between man and machine whilst constantly creating new business models. Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, Alibaba and Google are examples of multi-billion-dollar companies that have been established in recent years.
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What does the rapid development of machine intelligence including AI, robots or the automation of processes in companies and factories mean?
In 1997 IBM’s Deep Blue was able to defeat the chess world champion Garry Kasparov, in 2010 IBM Watson managed to win the game Jeopardy in record time against experts. The most recent successes are Alpha Go or Alpha Zero in 2017. Google’s computers were able to learn a highly complex game (Go) and to defeat the world champion several times.
The high speed of these developments puts demands in an unprecedented degree on all workforces, governments, legislators and authorities. Emily White, Facebook Executive, coined the term “work-life balance” in 2012, which makes it clear that work and private life can no longer be strictly separated from each other. At the same time, there is a high risk that parts of society will feel marginalized, because they assume that jobs will be taken away from them by automation and immigrants, or because they themselves do not have the skills to carry out the newly created jobs.
The rapid development enables the realization of new potentials for future innovations, such as better predictions of diseases, anticipation of needed products in production or replacement of wearing parts based on predictive analytics as well as self-driven automobiles. Some people fear that jobs will be replaced by machines as a result of this change. This fear, related to a single job, certainly cannot be dismissed, but related to the workforce, i.e. the people working in the company who will be needed in the future, it can be assumed that new jobs will be created which will exceed the jobs affected by the reduction:
How will the change take place in organizations in the age of industry 4.0 and when will the next stage be reached (will there be an industry 5.0)?
Most companies are still trying to define and to implement the digitization of industrial production and processes, summarized as Industry 4.0. At the same time, new business models are emerging and cooperation between companies across existing spatial and functional boundaries is becoming increasingly important, e.g. to drive innovation forward. Business networks can simplify this change in order to streamline possible collaboration between business partners and at the same time automate transactional processes. The cooperation of business areas, such as procurement or the supply chain with suppliers, face new challenges in order to improve their current business models. Examples are, the gorilla glass that enabled the use of smartphones in the first place, or the realization of new sales potentials through innovations, such as coffee capsules or coffee bars, which have opened up a new market to consume coffee.
After the 4th Industrial Revolution, which we are currently seeing in companies, some are already talking about the next level: Industry 5.0. The next wave of the industrial revolution needs to define how we want to work together and how the rules of man-robots or man-machine collaboration can be shaped when decisions are made based on artificial intelligence, for example by voice-controlled assistants (such as Alexa or Siri) or by self-driven cars. The fact that this is also an ethically highly relevant and much discussed topic is demonstrated not only by examples in which autonomous algorithms in vehicles must make decisions in the event of an unavoidable car accident.
As Andrew Ng, former senior scientist and assistant professor at Stanford University, points out: “Artificial intelligence is the new electricity”. This marks the beginning of the next industrial revolution.
How can we define rules for the ethical handling of AI?
It is non-controversial that the development of artificial intelligence represents the near future and holds promising benefits for companies. At the same time, the influence on the economy, politics and society cannot be ignored and can be accompanied by numerous challenges. It is essential to establish a clear framework and rules for the development and the use of intelligent technologies, said Jennifer Morgan, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.
SAP is an important driver of new technologies and globally used software-based applications that affect the lives of billions of people every day. That’s why we need to address ethical issues earnestly. SAP has set itself the goal of fulfilling a clearly posed declaration of commitment to abide the human rights and UN guidelines also within the development and use of AI. The aim is to define standards and thus, encourage other companies to follow this example. (https://www.businessinsider.de/sap-executive-on-ai-ethics-2018-10?r=US&IR=T). What will be decisive however, is the legal framework that governments around the world will set for the use of AI in the future, which companies will then have to comply with. Due to the new possibilities and the additional demand for labor force, it is necessary to evaluate the scope for companies to compete internationally, whilst weighing up the need for social security at the same time.
Marcell Vollmer is chief digital officer of SAP Ariba and the former chief procurement officer of SAP.
SAP is the market leader in business applications; and SAP Ariba is the world’s largest business network, linking together buyers and suppliers from more than 3 million companies in 190 countries.
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