Today almost every major organization around the world is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the workforce. Some of the leading thinkers are even talking about the possible threat to human species itself.
AI is not a new buzz word that dawned in the last couple of years. It has been there much before the world experienced Internet and Smart Phones. For a long time, AI enthusiasts have been talking utopian concepts to mimic human intelligence alongside computer vision, speech and speaker recognition, expert systems, fuzzzy neural-nets etc.
It is fascinating to notice all the excitement around this technology and curious to check whether we are nearing the peak of inflated expectations, or riding on the slope of enlightenment of this hype cycle.
Irrespective, the current interest has been heartening for some of us who studied and closely followed AI technology over the past few decades, in spite of knowing AI has been through these cycles earlier as well.
But this time around, it looks more promising. Unlike earlier when it was driven mostly by academia and R&D labs, this time we are hearing lot more interest from investors, business leaders and even the political leadership around the world.
Development and rapid progress in computing, web, mobile and data science should help AI during this cycle. Enormous amounts of data now available with organizations on customer/human behaviors will act as the lifeblood.
Having personally worked and experienced the benefits of AI technology in early 1990’s developing fuzzy-neural-networks and expert systems in the academic labs, and pattern recognition systems for large public organizations, i am confident that it improves human life and offers several value-creation opportunities for the businesses.
Huge improvements in the computing power over the past two decades coupled with the large amounts of data from Social, Mobile and IoT technologies opens a plethora of possibilities for augmented artificial intelligence systems to solve specific business problems.
However, the concept of utopian artificial general intelligence à la sci-fi is not going to be around anytime soon. Some group of AI robots taking over humans is still a good sci-fi story. Our quest for utopian concepts of Intelligence actually finds more answers in philosophy than in engineering.
Initially many investors and organizations will focus on the problems with good amount of data sets for quick returns. With large amounts of data with companies in the domains of Search, Social Media, Retail, Healthcare, Transportation, Law-enforcement etc provide great possibilities. Many businesses will also look at their internal data records, ethnographic studies, root-cause and fish-bones etc to create AI powered applications.
Notwithstanding current euphoria on AI, businesses and investors will wait to realize the value from their initial investments. As the confidence improves, we will be able to see some truly innovative applications addressing the not-yet explored business problems.
One of the challenges for many businesses will be the historical non-digital data conversion and process re-engineering for continuous machine learning. Also, there is an important need to address data proprietary issues while building eco-system of partnerships to create innovative AI powered systems.
AI growth cycle will follow the recent example of Internet revolution. Initially few innovative IT teams developed internal productivity systems demonstrating good return on the investments. This led to the explosion of new businesses changing the landscape.
Much of AI development will initially mimic sensory organs and augment human productivity and as a by-product making some traditional jobs redundant. We will find more refined and augmented Vision, Hearing, Speech, Human interactions and productivity applications.
The developments in Artificial Intelligence will profoundly change how humans will work, play, commute, live and learn over the next few decades. But we have a long way to go before we mimic a creative human mind.
Yes, it is ironic for a technology named Artificial Intelligence.
With all said and done, the real threat to human species is not going to come from some mean-spirited robots taking over earth as being envisaged by some. Rather once again it will be the evil-minded political leaders of rogue nations except this time using AI powered weapons-of-mass-destruction, since they will now be much more easier to develop and use.
Concepts of human intelligence, insights, wisdom have to be correctly understood before we make inroads, if at all, to realize utopian artificial general intelligence. We have not even addressed the larger nature-vs-nurture debate. We also need deeper understanding of chaos, fuzzy logic among others. It is going to be a much complex noodle-soup of cognitive, biological, anthropological and social perspectives.
With concepts of Singularity notwithstanding, we may also need some radical approaches. Perhaps we find answers in esoteric philosophy if we are willing with an open mind to collaborate, study and apply it for scientific purposes. Till then, while we make steady progress towards using AI to augment and address specific areas, the true artificial general intelligence will evade us.
To understand science behind life, we need to put some life behind science.
Rest assured, the chances of someone getting killed by an ultra-intelligent robot on a killing-spree is much less likely than the immature decisions by world political leaders in using weapons made by this beautiful AI technology. World needs governance mechanisms to safeguard and save humanity from self-destruction.
With the roadblocks removed and governance aspects in place, AI not only can provide tangible benefits for businesses and society but also will improve and augment human capabilities significantly and even can lead us closer to self-actualization state.