Artificial intelligence – a game changer

Published August 9, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Monchito B. Ibrahim

TECH4GOOD

Monchito Ibrahim

Artificial intelligence, or what is commonly referred to as AI, has made inroads into our lives and beginning to influence our lifestyles. From assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to the internet predicting what we may buy next, to the way companies provide customer service, AI is now ubiquitous. It is promising to be a game-changing and transformative innovation just like electricity, the internet, and smartphones. Futurists are saying AI would even be more powerful in terms of impact on society. And we are only seeing the beginning.

AI can be simply defined as the ability of a machine or a computer to mimic the human mind’s decision making and problem-solving ability. The term AI was first used in the 1950s and is usually attributed to Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy who were also known as the fathers of the field. It was Alan Turing, however, who popularized the idea of intelligent machines and in fact, developed a test for artificial intelligence in 1950 which is still used today.

AI is now beginning to impact the global economy. A recent study done by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) says AI will result in $15.7 trillion potential contribution to the global economy by 2030. This is more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion would come from increased productivity and the remaining $9.1 trillion would come from consumption side effects. It is expected to boost the GDPs of local economies with China benefitting the most with a 26 percent boost. The total GDP impact for North America will be 14.5 percent and for the rest of the world, 5.6 percent of GDP.

Artificial intelligence, however, has become not just a source of huge excitement but apprehension as well. As with most changes in life, AI’s impact on society will bring in both positive and negative dimensions. How it will balance out will be up for debate and much contemplation as AI continues to transform our world and evolve the way we carry on with our lives.

AI is causing workplaces to evolve and changing and transforming jobs. Pessimists are saying that AI will cause significant loss of jobs to machines and algorithms.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 85 million jobs will be replaced by machines with AI by 2025. The PwC study says that in the UK alone, seven million existing jobs will be replaced by AI by 2037 but 7.2 million jobs could be created. Despite the misconception that automation and AI will result in decreased job opportunities, it is actually expected to trigger a significant increase in new positions. It would now depend on how employers can use AI in ways that enable and not replace the human workforce. Personally, I see the existing workforce taking on new roles powered by AI. The real challenge is for us humans to find our place in the new workplace with new responsibilities that require us to use our unique human abilities. We should start asking ourselves how might AI change our jobs tomorrow.

Ai will not only be transforming jobs. Business and societal processes will be profoundly transformed by it. Think of AI doing the marketing, reviewing contracts, and self-driving cars, and recommending whom to lend money to.

It is also expected to better healthcare by making it more efficient, and more precise, and providing more access to healthcare. Just by taking pictures of skin conditions, interactive mobile apps can tell patients what the issues are thus freeing up doctors to do more important patient care roles. A McKinsey study estimates an annual savings of at least $100 billion in healthcare expenses with the use of AI.

Other areas where AI is believed to improve on would include education, better information to mitigate climate change and disaster resiliency, and the efficient use of the world’s resources. Schools today need to be reimagined and the use of AI could potentially present new solutions to better prepare people for the jobs and lives of tomorrow.

The Philippines is not left behind in terms of AI adoption. My organization, the Analytics Association of the Philippines (AAP) recently organized a four half-day National Analytics and AI Summit. We were surprised to see tremendous interest in AI as reflected in the attendance. More on the summit in my next column which will be the second part of this series. In the third part, I will be writing on ethical considerations in the adoption of AI.

Overall, I believe AI will make our world a better place. It is going to transform the workplaces and replace some jobs but hopefully will create better and more human jobs. We need to prepare our workforce by retraining and upskilling them in the coming years. Only time will tell whether AI will replace humans and take over the world as we see in the movies. It’s best that we prepare ourselves for an AI driven life.

 
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