Artificial Intelligence: What’s coming next

AI is changing our world and the impact to come is massive: on the way we work, we live, collaborate, decide, and act as a society. But what are the risks and how can we get prepared?

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AI is changing our world and the impact to come is massive: on the way we work, we live, collaborate, decide, and act as a society.

1. Artificial Intelligence, defined

Artificial Intelligence can be defined as the technology enabling systems to encapsulate cognitive functions along with adaptive and learning capabilities — leading to self-improvement.

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2. The state of the art

Algorithms can now ‘see’

The ability of a computer to ‘see’ is an astonishing achievement. AI-powered systems can ‘understand’ the context of an image or a video at an impressive level of detail. They can identify an expanding set of entities — such as persons, named individuals, cars, houses, streets, trees, and more — with increasing levels of success.

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In the near future, algorithms will be able to infer even the situation implied — such as a kids party, a sports event, a business conference or a random arrangement of people in a park.

The possible applications of computer vision are impressive. From autonomous cars that can ‘see’ in 360 and understand their environment and its dynamics in real-time, to special applications like the Seeing AI by Microsoft — a prototype system helping people who are visually impaired or blind to understand their environment!

The dialogue with the ‘machine’

A short interaction with Amazon Alexa, Cortana, Siri, or Google Assistant is sufficient to realize the huge progress of Natural Language Processing technologies.

Digital assistants will become more and more intelligent, contextual and proactive.

At some point in the not so distant future, your digital assistant will respond naturally, in a conversational mode and possibly with a style, attitude, and humor matching your personality and your current mood.

3. Industries to be impacted by Artificial Intelligence

AI is already impacting our socioeconomic system in many ways. We have entered a phase of drastic transformation of markets, businesses, education, government, social welfare systems, companies, employment models, and social structures. All will all be soon re-shaped as the result of intelligent technologies and automation.

The massive adoption of AI will fundamentally change all industries, as summarized below.

Transportation systems

This sector is going through a radical transformation. Fully autonomous cars will soon be a reality. They will be safer, more efficient, and more effective. Autonomous trucks, smart containers, driver-less taxis, and smart cities are just some examples of the reality to come for the transportation industry.

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Consumer habits will be severely impacted, with a shift from owning a car to consuming car services on demand.

The cost of a vehicle as a service will be significantly lower due to, among other factors, the capability of better utilization of the cars by the company operating the service.

Electronic commerce

Customer experience is becoming smarter with advanced, AI-powered personalization, dynamic pricing, and offer generation.

Financial services, insurance

Any sector requiring a significant amount of data processing and content handling will also benefit from AI.

The State and Citizen Services

AI can have a great impact on eliminating bureaucracy, improving citizen services, governance, and social programs.

Legal services

Even more traditional professions that are built on top of strong relationships, such as legal professions, will be re-defined by AI. Typical support services in a legal context, deal with document handling, classification, discovery, summarization, comparison, and knowledge management — tasks where AI agents already excel.

Product development

AI introduces new capabilities changing the typical product development process — for digital or physical products. With the general availability of advanced cognitive technologies (cloud-based commercial AI offerings via easy-to-consume APIs) and the low-cost integration scenarios, the AI-powered opportunities for innovation increase exponentially.

Education

The overall education system will be dramatically improved by AI on top of world-scale digitized content, data, and scientific and general knowledge.

4. The concerns

There are serious concerns and unanswered questions regarding the social, political, and ethical implications of the massive adoption of AI.

Lethal Autonomous Weapons

The concept of an autonomous machine is impressive. Think of an autonomous car, which can capture its environment and dynamics and make real-time decisions, to achieve a predefined objective — move from point A to B — under certain constraints.

The risk of bias and the need for transparency

AI systems learn by analyzing huge volumes of data and they keep adapting through continuous modeling of interaction data and user-feedback.

Access to data, knowledge, technology.

In our interconnected world, a relatively small number of companies are collecting vast amounts of data. Access to this data would allow an accurate replay of our day-to-day life in terms of activities, interactions, and explicitly stated or implicitly identified interests. Somebody with access to this data would ‘know’ our mobility history, our online search and social media activity, chats, emails, and other online micro-behaviors and interactions.

An AI system will be able to ‘understand’ any online user — in terms of interests, daily habits and future needs; it could derive impressive estimations and predictions, ranging from purchasing interests to user’s emotional state.

If you think of this AI output at scale — analyzing data at the population level — these predictions and insights could describe the synthesis, state, and dynamics of an entire population.

The right to privacy

When you consider the possibility of unauthorized access to one’s online history (or other) data, the right to privacy is obviously at risk. But even in the case of an offline user — somebody who has deliberately decided to stay ‘disconnected’ — the right to privacy is still under threat.

Unauthorized access and control

Security and access control is a critical aspect. If somebody compromises a smart system (for instance, an autonomous car) the consequences can be disastrous. Security of intelligent, connected systems and machines against unauthorized access is a top priority.

Technological unemployment

This is defined as the unemployment ‘explained’ by the application of new technologies — in the AI era it refers to the jobs replaced by intelligent automation.

In the years to come, we will witness significant changes in the workforce and the markets. Roles and jobs will become obsolete, industries will be radically transformed, employment models and relationships will be redefined.

For instance, tasks and activities related to customer care/call centers, document management, content moderation are increasingly based on technology and intelligent systems.

Ethics, social responsibility, and difficult decisions

AI enables optimal decisions in a real-time mode. Although in most cases the optimal decision is objectively determined and generally accepted, there are several examples raising ethical and moral issues.

Disproportional power and control over data

Technology companies are investing heavily in artificial intelligence, both at the scientific/engineering and also at the commercial and product development level.

5. The promise

In the context of the Internet of Things (IoT), billions of connected devices continuously send events, operation, and other data, which are then processed by advanced Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence technologies.

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6. Getting ready

But how can we ensure proper use of Artificial Intelligence — in the interest of the individual and the society? How can we best adapt to the technological transformation which is already happening?

Written by

Author of https://www.theinnovationmode.com/ Opinions and views are my own

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