Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work and Business

One of the most prominent themes in science fiction is robots taking over. But while this may seem a fantasy, job security and business viability are genuine fears affecting individuals and organizations across a wide spectrum.

In this respect, discussions surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) come to light, sparking mixed responses. If you’re confused about what AI is, and how it impacts you as an employee or small business owner, you have come to the right place!

In today’s blog post, we cut to the chase, avoiding complex terms and telling you the nitty-gritty of what this technology is and what the future holds.

Artificial Intelligence 101

In the most basic terms, AI is where technology mimics human thinking. As our world becomes smarter and more connected, machines are also beginning to sense, learn, react, and adapt to real-life situations, creating amazing interactions between people and computers.

The two core concepts of AI are:

Machine Learning (ML)

ML is a computational method that enables machines to think and act specific functions without being explicitly directed to do.

Deep Learning

This is a branch of ML that uses neural network models to process and make sense of large amounts of data by speeding up processes like speech recognition.

It’s crucial that we also know what AI is not. Again, talking about science fiction, AI is not like SkyNet or HAL.  It’s not ‘alive’. Even the most interactive and seemingly spontaneous tasks performed by a machine are programmed into it. An AI can only think and set tasks for itself in a very limited context.

Indeed, some characterizations of AI and its impact are grossly exaggerated. What we do know so far is that AI can help you automate everyday tasks, and help you make sense of large amounts of data quickly. And this is where its implications on work and business begin.

What AI Means for the Future of Business

Considering its nature, AI has tremendous potential in all kinds of industries. Here are a few examples:

Medicine

AI can help doctors make timely and more accurate diagnoses, which lead to timely treatments and improved outcomes.

Transport

Self-driving cars are a possibility as they can learn from data of millions of cars, improving safety.

Finance

AI can benefit finance in many ways. AI can help organizations and experts to sift through large volumes of data and notice trends and patterns that help in better and faster decision-making. Even banks can analyze spending patterns and catch unusual activity to crack down on fraud before it occurs.

So, AI adoption has far-reaching implications for all industries. Even farmers can benefit by tracking weather and soil conditions in real-time, leading to greater yields, even in unpredictable climates.

And while AI adoption is far from reaching its potential, the majority of businesses experimenting with Artificial Intelligence report tangible benefits. Automation helps businesses improve efficiencies and accuracy across departments such as sales, customer support, and even human resources. This helps justify investment in AI, even for small businesses, because it will ultimately lower your business costs by removing inefficiencies.

And as more business processes are automated, the workforce becomes free to focus on tasks that require creativity and critical thinking. This brings us to the next point.

What about Jobs?

In many areas, AI is matching human capabilities, which leads to concern about job security. Will AI change the workforce in the future?

It is hard to say at this point. What will really happen is that many jobs that involve repetition will become redundant.

But this is not an altogether bad thing as AI helps the human workforce to concentrate on the valuable tasks that fully utilize their skills. Among other things, this leads to a greater level of professional fulfillment, and surveys do show that AI has helped in employee retention, even if on a limited scale.

Moreover, as AI brings new capabilities to businesses, many new jobs will be created in the process as well.  What businesses need is to engage employees at the earliest stages of AI development so that they can use it to boost their own skills and become better at their jobs.

And companies that do this sooner rather than later are more likely to benefit in the long run.

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