Artificial Intelligence and the Not-So-Distant Future

By Kim Honjo

We’ve been writing a lot of posts recently about artificial intelligence (AI) from how it’s changing the day-to-day work of sales teams, to how you might be conversing with them via live chats, to all the other places AI is already showing up. But that’s all current stuff; the stuff you experience when you take your phone out of your pocket and ask Siri to find you a restaurant. I want to know more about what AI of the future will look like, so I started by Googling. And, I hit jackpot.

I learned that Stanford University started a study a few years ago called the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100). In 2014, Stanford began a “100-year effort to study and anticipate how the effects of artificial intelligence will ripple through every aspect of how people work, live, and play.” The current and future research committees will identify the most compelling topics in AI and will study and report on these issues periodically.

The panel published its inaugural report in 2016 called Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030. It’s completely free, so anyone may read it here. But in case you just want a few key takeaways, I picked out a few topics that might be of interest on how AI will affect our future lives.


This is likely the first domain the public will be asked to trust the reliability and safety of AI for a critical task. We already have self-driving cars, and the study expects that they will become commonplace by 2030 as, “once the physical hardware is made sufficiently safe and robust, its introduction to daily life may happen so suddenly as to surprise the public, which will require time to adjust.”

  • In your typical North American city by 2030, physically embodied AI systems will not only be limited to cars, but also trucks, flying vehicles, and personal robots.
  • AI is likely to have an increasing impact on city infrastructure. However, infrastructure costs, different priorities among cities, and coordination of parties involved will slow adoption.
  • In addition to an increase of drones delivering goods, expect robots to take part in transporting individuals and packages.


Healthcare has been a promising domain for AI-based technologies. AI applications have the potential to improve health outcomes and the quality of life for millions, but only if the AI gains the trust of medical professionals, patients, and if regulatory policies and commercial obstacles are solved. Prime uses for AI include clinical decision support, patient monitoring and coaching, automated devices to assist in surgery or patient care, and management of healthcare systems.

  • AI’s ability to mine outcomes from millions of patient clinical records promises to enable a more finely-tuned, more personalized diagnosis.
  • Healthcare robots continue to get refined and programmed to do simple tasks, but will not be fully automated. For example, robots may be able to deliver goods to the right room in a hospital, but then require a person to pick them up and place them in their final location.
  • The coming generational shift will herald a change in technology acceptance among the elderly. AI will help in the life-quality and continued independence of senior citizens with automated transportation and smart devices to aid in cooking and dressing. In-home monitoring devices coupled with wearable devices can assess behavior changes, or activities and can alert caregivers.

Low-Resource Communities

There are many opportunities for AI to improve conditions for people in low-resource communities. Traditionally, AI funders have underinvested in research that lacks commercial application, but with targeted incentives and funding, AI can provide solutions for communities in need.

  • Many efforts are underway to use predictive models to assist government agencies. For instance: prioritizing children at risk, identifying pregnant women at risk for adverse birth outcomes, and to proactively identify and deploy inspectors to properties at risk of code violations.
  • AI will also help organizations with task assignment scheduling and with planning. For instance, AI-driven applications can help food banks and non-profits to distribute food before it spoils.
  • Social networks can be harnessed to create earlier, cost-effective interventions involving large populations. For example, AI programs can assist in spreading health-related information. Individual interventions can be costly, but by leveraging AI, organizations can identify networks and peer leaders to spread information.

Employment and Workplace

While AI technologies will have a profound future impact on employment and workplace trends in a typical North American city, it’s difficult to accurately assess current impacts, positive or negative. To be successful, however, AI innovations will need to overcome understandable human fears of being marginalized.

  • AI will likely replace tasks rather than jobs in the near term and will create new jobs, but the new jobs that will be created are harder to imagine in advance. As AI becomes more ubiquitous in the workplace, its effects will emerge ranging from small amounts of replacement or adjustment in tasks or processes, to complete replacement. For example, AI technologies applied to legal information has automated portions of entry-level lawyer’s jobs but has not automated the job of a lawyer. By 2030, a diverse array of job-holders from radiologists to truck drivers to gardeners may be affected.
  • AI will certainly create new jobs by making certain tasks more important and creating new employment categories by making new modes of interaction possible. There is currently a vibrant research community within AI that specifically studies ways of creating new markets and making existing ones operate more efficiently.
  • Because AI systems perform work that previously required human labor, they have the effect of lowering the cost of many goods and services, saving people money.

While the potential of future AI hasn’t been fully unlocked yet, artificial intelligence is already enriching our lives. Find out how by exploring our interactive page.

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