Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the current hot topic of conversation. During this digital revolution, most people are aware that AI will play a significant role in both business and leisure. In fact, 72% of industry leaders termed AI a “business advantage” for the future.1 However, a large proportion of the general public seem fearful and apprehensive as to what the future of AI looks like. With this in mind, it is time to put to rest 5 common misconceptions on AI:
1. AI and automation are going to replace human jobs
This is one of the most common topics brought up when discussing the future of AI. Though there is an element of truth in that AI will disrupt the workforce, it will certainly not replace all human jobs. The workplace is constantly transforming; take the industrial revolution where we saw a mass shift in the employment landscape from predominantly agricultural to factory work. In reality, there is little evidence to indicate any likelihood of a widespread redundancy of the human workforce. Actually, it is also just as probable that AI will have a favourable outcome for the economy, born out of the greater productivity and reduction of waste that automation brings, therefore enabling us to use our time more effectively, which paradoxically allows us to be more human.
2. AI requires a robot body
The entertainment industry is largely to blame for the automatic assumption that AI is intrinsically linked to robots. With films such as ‘I, Robot’ and ‘Ex Machina’, it is not surprising this association is made, with many also overdramatising the conflict between man and machine. This common misconception may simply be because it is easier for us to understand how AI functions when humanising it. However, robotics is only one of many useful applications of AI; personal digital assistants such as the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home, predictive buying and fraud detection which flag up atypical purchases, are all examples of AI in its extraordinary different uses – none of which require a humanoid body.
3. AI will create a greater wealth division
This theory ties in with the idea that the job sector will transform as a product of AI, resulting in an influx of new positions where human expertise is required to monitor AI-based systems. The public are predicting that especially low-skilled and manual work, which is predominantly carried out by the poor and developing countries, will be taken over by machines. Meanwhile, those in developed countries who can also afford higher education are able study the relevant disciplines, arming them with the knowledge and expertise to succeed in the future and hence, resulting in the rich getting richer.
However, bringing AI into the workplace is not all doom and gloom. In fact, AI has the potential to do the complete opposite and reduce the wealth gap in the future. This could be achieved through introducing AI into the classrooms of developing countries. Once AI becomes more advanced, it could be used as an educational tool, enabling children from across the world to develop important, employable skills for the foreseeable working climate. Therefore, in the long-term, AI may actually reduce the disparity in wealth.
4. AI will quickly overtake and outpace human intelligence
The “singularity” refers to the idea that once AI surpasses human intelligence there will be a snowball effect of new generations of smarter machines which will eventually end of the human race. However, the statement itself is wrong as it requires personifying AI. To understand machine intelligence, we need to understand human intelligence and in order to understand this, we need to understand the human brain; which we still are so far away from completely comprehending. Furthermore, even if/when in the future we do manage to achieve creating machines that replicate human cognitive function, they will exceed human brains in relation to speed and memory capacity. Nonetheless, in order for AI to overtake and outpace human intelligence, machines require understanding emotions such as motivation and inspiration which are far more complex to comprehend, let alone programme.
5. AI-based systems aren’t safe
The idea of autonomous systems breaching our security are again a product of sci-fi themed TV culture. We are still so far from reaching Artificial General Intelligence where machines can operate as an autonomous agent and could even have the possibility of being a threat. Our current systems are human-dependent and therefore the only real worry is if humans exploit our private information gleaned from databases, which is illegal and punishable.
So next time you are having a debate over AI with people voicing the inevitable end of the human race, make sure you make others aware of the real facts as oppose to the science fiction that makes good TV. Simply put, we do not need to fear AI but embrace it, and no matter how smart the machines become, businesses will still rely on human intelligence to harness the power of AI and deliver results. Zoodikers’ Managing Director, Katie King, will release her book in autumn on AI in Marketing, which will cover many of these topics and reassure businesses of the positive impact AI can bring to the workplace.