For almost as long as anyone can remember, artificial intelligence has been a technological development that has been anticipated with almost as much trepidation as anticipation. At the heart of this is the deep-seated fear that, once we start designing machines that can think for themselves, before long they will be out-thinking us, with the next point on that trajectory being total global domination: the machines really will have taken over. But, just as the first arrivals of the steam train and even the telephone instilled terror in the general public, the fear proved to be unfounded – and any antipathy towards AI is likely to go the same way.
But what needs to happen first is for people to see the sorts of changes that it will make to business as well as many other fields of human enterprise. Then, and only then, is it likely to be welcomed with open arms. The good news, however, is that AI is already starting to help in some very useful ways.
It’s already eliminating boring jobs
While we’re never going to achieve what, for some, might be the utopian dream of a life of leisure while robots do the work on our behalf, AI is already taking care of many of the more mundane tasks that need to be carried out. In particular, this is very relevant in the broad area of data management in which huge amounts of information need to be collated, organized, and processed. And while this may be removing some of the more uninteresting activities – let’s not ignore the fact that it’s also opening up new opportunities for programmers, analysts and a whole new generation of staff needed to support the new technology.
It’s creating a more bespoke world for us
When we first started getting messages from online retailers like Amazon about what we might like to buy, or from Netflix about what we might like to watch, it seemed like a frankly unwelcome intrusion. But, as more sophisticated algorithms have been brought into play, those predictions are starting to be altogether more accurate and more welcome. So, it surely won’t be long until other sources of entertainment start to make increasingly sophisticated use of AI. For example, this could be utilized on leading online casino sites such as Betway, to recommend games or slots that we might like to play, whilst ciphering down through their collection of hundreds of already popular slots and classic table games. It may even go as far as tailoring offers and promotions according to known preferences.
It’s introducing the next generation of disaster response
It may be that it’s the way that the media presents the news, or simply the greater connectedness of the world, but recent times do seem to have thrown up an unprecedented number of natural disasters and crises. Take, for example, the bush fires that last year devastated huge swathes of Australia. There was great uncertainty about how this would develop as, although the bush fires are not a new phenomenon in the nation, they had never been seen on this scale prior to this. But the use of AI to analyze them, and to recreate models of how they are likely to unfold, could mean that fires on a similar scale in the future will be able to be handled more effectively.
It’s refining climate prediction
After the world witnessed how climate change played a key, catastrophic role in the Australia bush fires, it’s safe to say that any predictions about the weather and how patterns are likely to change in future could be vital. Therefore, it’s fortunate that there are continual developments in geospatial AI; which helps to map out current and future weather patterns with ever-greater levels of accuracy. Of course, this is no new development to use computers for forecasting – it was a practice that IBM began to develop in earnest in the 1990s. But the increases in both computing power and analytical resources mean more accurate forecasts and advanced warnings when extreme events are on the way.
It’s bringing education to more people
It’s generally agreed that it’s through giving more access to education for more of the world’s population that real progress will be made. AI obviously has a very significant role to play, especially for reaching people with little “standard” access to education. Not only is it becoming more widely used, evidence shows that just a few hours of AI-assisted learning can be the equivalent of a whole semester at college. Of all the countries in the world, it seems like it’s China that is leading the way in AI-assisted education thanks, in part, to its disparate population. But the West is quickly catching up.
So, for every scare story of AI taking over, there are several about how it is going to be a positive boon – and many more are undoubtedly on the way.