AI Becoming a Way of Life
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It’s been an exciting, but complex year in the world of data science. Just as last year, the data tech ecosystem has continued to be highly effective. If nothing else, AI has probably been even more front and centre in 2018, in both business and personal conversations. On the one hand, data technologies (Big Data, data science, machine learning, AI) continue their march forward, becoming ever more efficient, and also more widely adopted in businesses around the world. On the other hand, a much broader cross-section of the public has become aware of the pitfalls of data. Whether it is through the very public debate over the risks of AI, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the massive Equifax data breach, the data world has started revealing some darker, scarier undertones. Both are the flipside of the same phenomenon, which has been brewing for many years but is now in full display: just about everything (whether personal or professional) is rapidly getting digitized, and data technologies are becoming more adept than ever at processing and analyzing this massive data exhaust, increasingly in real time.
Various Sectors Adopting AI
In fact, every other industry is considering to incorporate AI into their business models. A company need not be a large venture to take advantage of AI in order to provide better services to customers—both at a lower cost and with better results. AI can help small and mid-sized businesses anticipate and fill customers product needs faster, improve inventory systems by incorporating Just in Time processes, reduce shipping and stocking errors, and facilitate the payment and collection process. That is to say, AI has considerably altered the business landscape, specifically in industries such as pharmaceuticals and life sciences, food, media and entertainment, IT, law, insurance and education.
Impacts of AI
As companies transition towards AI, many talks about how this transition will result in unemployment because of reduced job opportunities. However, the same depends on the objective with which the transition is made. If companies transit not with the objective of labour substitution but with that to augment human skills, AI will not result in unemployment but rather redefine jobs and the organizational structure. Companies will have to reconfigure jobs by adding new tasks or creating entirely different roles that are needed for managing intelligent technologies.
Talking about the predicted technological trends in 2019, studies by Forbes and Gartner identify how AI is increasingly providing the brains for autonomous things such as robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles, empowering them to more naturally interact with both their surroundings and with people. Within the realm of augmented intelligence, Gartner sees augmented analytics, which it defines as the use of machine learning to transform how analytics develops content, how is it consumed, and shared, rapidly advancing through mainstream adoption. This will enable organizations to optimize decisions and actions of all employees, and not just those of analysts and data scientists. Moreover, studies talk about the growing need for easy-to-use tools that can be leveraged by application developers rather than data scientists. There is also predicted growth in smart spaces, which are a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems.
The exponential rate of growth in AI and the way companies and individuals are becoming increasingly adept to it shows that AI is no more just a buzzword, but a reality which is now becoming a way of life; be it the ease with which we have become used to Alexa helping us find our phones or how Facebook’s news feed algorithms are believed to have impacted election outcomes. It is time we realize the potential of AI and take the steps in the right direction to hope for a positive outcome.