A promising future with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been described by Klaus Schwabe as the driving force behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Think of your internet of thing (IoT) devices (smart devices capable of connecting to the internet) as the access point and the Big Data that it collects as the fuel that drives AI.

What is created is a unique picture of a person that shows habits and trends that are unique. No two people are the same, therefore, AI will be able to predict and anticipate your wants and needs before you can. It can then tailor a service or a product based on the information it receives.

In the past, people paid a lot of money for personalised experiences and products, so it makes sense that this will be a major upward driver of profit margins.

In the year 2035

A fascinating article on the Forbes website discusses this further.

The article points out that by 2035, AI technologies have the potential to increase productivity 40% or more. Further, AI will increase economic growth by an average of 1.7% across 16 industries by 2035.

According to the article, information & communication, manufacturing and financial services will be the top three industries that gain economic growth in 2035 from AI’s benefits. AI will have the most positive effect on education, accommodation, food services and construction industry profitability in 2035.

The bottom line is that AI has the potential to boost profitability an average of 38% by 2035 and lead to an economic boost of $14T across 16 industries in 12 economies by 2035.

The Forbes article is based on a study undertaken by Accenture Research. As discussed above, Accenture Research found that the Information and Communication industry has the greatest potential for economic growth from AI.

Integrating AI into legacy information and communications systems will deliver significant cost, time and process-related savings quickly. Accenture predicts the time, cost and labour savings will generate up to $4.7 trillion in gross value added (GVA) value in 2035. High growth areas within this industry are cloud, network, and systems security including defining enterprise-wide cloud security strategies.

The Forbes article adds that personalized learning programs and automating mundane, routine tasks to free up colleges, universities, and trade school instructors to teach new learning frameworks will accelerate profitability in the education through 2035. Accommodation & Food Services and Construction are industries with manually-intensive, often isolated processes that will benefit from the increased insights and contextual intelligence from AI throughout the forecast period.

The final take away from the Forbes article is one I find particularly important. It points out that by 2035, AI technologies could increase labour productivity 40% or more, doubling economic growth in 12 developed nations. Accenture finds that AI’s immediate impact on profitability is improving individual efficiency and productivity. The economies of the US and Finland are projected to see the greatest economic gains from AI through 2035, with each attaining 2% higher GVA growth.

Many benefactors

As discussed in an earlier blog post, the Gutenberg Press and the rise of Robotics in Japan facilitated mass production, but allowed specific companies to set themselves apart from their peers when it came to productivity and by association, profitability.

AI threatens to do the same. If two big companies get hold of a pioneering AI technology, it will be basically all she wrote when it comes to smaller companies competing for a piece of the tech market.

A world class profile on wired.com shows how Microsoft is on the cusp of making great strides in AI. Yoshua Bengio has never been one to take sides. As one of the three intellects who shaped the deep learning that now dominates artificial intelligence, he has been catapulted to stardom.

Bengio understands that the tools he’s invented are powerful beyond measure and must be cultivated with great forethought and widespread consideration. “We don’t want one or two companies, which I will not name, to be the only big players in town for AI. It’s not good for the community. It’s not good for people in general,” he says.

Bengio has agreed to a strategic partnership with Microsoft to advance the company’s capabilities in AI and to establish the company as a major player in the technology world, apart from the other players situated in Menlo Park and Mountain View.

The great irony here is that artificial intelligence was once Microsoft’s game to lose. Dating back to the early 1990s, the company attracted the leading researchers in the field to work on speech recognition and vision. But then came a decade of stagnancy. A company that once controlled the software on nearly every desktop and laptop watched younger, snazzier startups whiz by it to dominate mobile and develop tools for the new cloud-based ways all of us like to get work done. Researchers at Microsoft were isolated on purpose, so they could dream up the future without the pressure of the market—but as a result, their inventions rarely made it out of the lab.

No fans here

While there are a lot of fans of AI, Jack Ma – Founder and Executive Chairperson of Alibaba – said that we need to be cautious with it.

I came across his thoughts in an article on businessinsider.com where he spoke openly about his trepidation.

Ma said that new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence could lead to the third World War. “The first technology revolution caused World War I,” Ma told CNBC. “The second technology revolution caused World War II. This is the third technology revolution.”

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have become a hot topic among businesses as of late, with a record number of firms touting the utilization of the new technologies in their business.

The businessinsider article adds that the technologies have also has raised worries about the implications for average workers who could see their jobs automated away using these new functions. In turn, concerns about geopolitical outcomes due to increased automation have also bubbled up. “The third technology revolution may cause the Third World War,” Ma told CNBC at the Gateway 2017 conference.

Ma has previously warned about the dangers of slowing international trade, saying at the opening of Alibaba’s Australian’s headquarters in February, “If trade stops, war starts.”

In Ma’s view, the worker displacement from these new technologies and the economic stress it could place on political systems may lead to conflict as some people will be big winners from the changes while others will get left behind. In his estimation, the first World War came on the heels of upheaval caused by the Industrial Revolution which shuffled the economic fortunes of different nations and classes leading to conflict, and similar technologies helped lead to World War II.

To head off this conflict, Ma said, governments need to get out in front of the displacement and help to adapt workforces to take on new jobs and step up education to provide a backstop to prevent negative outcomes.