It wasn’t that long ago that developers of robotic machine tools that replicated many traditional human actions downplayed the idea that machine intelligence would one day take over more than a few menial and repetitious functions in the workplace. There would always be the need for human intelligence interaction with the machines in order for the robots to perform their tasks. At least that is what most early developers and supporters of artificial intelligence (AI) predicted. AI is the science of computers and machines developing intelligence like humans in order to perform simple and complex functions that most of us humans do on a daily basis.
The early defense, while calming and reassuring at the time, is giving way to a reality where artificial intelligence is rapidly impacting millions of workers who once thought their life and profession would be safe from the thinking machines. At the same time all of mankind is benefitting from the rapid development and deployment of artificial thinking systems.
Now scientists openly predict that the day when AI surpasses humans is upon us. At least the time is a lot closer than anyone previously dared to surmise. In 2019 it is likely that visual lenses will allow consumers to visually react to a purchase consideration and initiate and complete the transaction. An important benefit of these AI-powered lenses is the elimination of barriers caused by limitations of human language. Finding the right words to describe something will no longer impair clear and immediate understanding.
As consumers demand a more personal connection with brands, they freely volunteer personal information that allows AI to respond with more personalized and comprehensive messages. While current AI is making short work of simple and menial operations, this year will see incremental advancements in machine learning applications. As the technology becomes more proficient, more time and energy will need to be spent on reassuring society of how the technology works and the ways it may affect not only individuals but whole communities.
In the coming year AI will continue to revolutionize whole industries where human interface and personal interactions with customers were once thought to be irreplaceable. Automation of many traditional processes in the retail industry will bring about efficiencies that can no longer be overlooked by retail executive suites. Humans currently account for 45 percent of call center interactions with customers, a number predicted to drop to 14 percent by 2022.
As the benefits to this expanding technology are overtly touted, serious concern among many scientists and technologists are beginning to be heard. Some are sounding an alarm to the risk of AI being used to cause harm or mayhem to society. Many are calling for regulation and oversight of the AI industry to ensure the peaceful development and application of the expanding technology. “I am really quite close, I am very close, to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me,” said Elon Musk, founder of Space X and Tesla. “It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential. I am not normally an advocate of regulation and oversight; I think one should generally err on the side of minimizing those things but this is a case where you have a very serious danger to the public.”
The rate of acceptance of any new technology that promises to significantly disrupt societal norms often regulates the technology’s progression. Understanding the capabilities of AI and how it can safely benefit society will ultimately determine the rate of implementation. Human terror, real or imagined, of being ruled by the very machines it creates may just temper the enthusiasm for its rapid ascension to reality.