Despite the divide, disruptive technologiesare COVID-19 pandemic in emerging markets...
Perhaps, it is necessary to understand the scope of Artificial Intelligence ((AI) in the scope of businesses. An oversimplified description of AI is a collection of technologies that enable machines to learn, adapt and act almost with human-like intelligence at incredible speeds. AI differs widely from simple automation, which may be enabling machines to undertake repetitive human-like acts such as those in assembly lines of factories and in warehouses. In this case, machines are trained to perform a specific act perfectly and performs that act in the same way repetitively until perhaps programmed to perform another task.
In the present age, multi-billion industries hugely depend on AI to drive their businesses. However, the journey of AI has not been smooth; the period of hypes was followed by periods with reduced funding (also known as AI winters). Nonetheless, despite these hindrances, today AI is back in limelight due to development of ‘deep learning’ neural networks with many hidden layers.
AI Redefining the Trove of Businesses
The past century saw technology reached a true seminal moment when humans, through the power of an atom, acquired the capacity to destroy the entire planet. Now, thanks to AI, technology is hurtling us toward a new inflection point. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence is a by-product of advancement in technology. The importance of technology recently manifested in the global pandemic (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology and innovation in developed countries. This technology enabled researchers and firms to work at unprecedented speeds to decode the organism’s genetic code in weeks, design testing, monitoring and patient management devices or tools, and bring to market several novel vaccines in about a year. Besides, AI is one of the digital technologies having profound economic, social and environment contributions. The global market for AI is estimated to be growing at about 32%-42% per year– a very fast pace.
While the actual value of the AI global market is worth about $62.35 billion in 2020, it is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 40.2%. It is also expected to hit between $267 billion and $312 billion by 2027. Like other technologies, the contribution of AI to business performance and economic growth is driving greater investments by governments and companies alike. For instance, one estimate suggests that by 2030, AI will “contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy”.
Moreover, Artificial intelligence (AI), as we have seen in the past, is already established in the enterprise. Some professions, like human resources, have taken to it easily while others, particularly regulated industries, have been slower to write AI into their future. The fact of the matter is that AI is still a very new technology and it is still not clear what it will bring to the enterprise, or if what it brings will be positive.
AI Technology offers new opportunities that can lead to notable transformation in businesses and the overall economic system. At the business level, some of the benefits include: the quick unveiling of patterns in big data, speedy visualization and analytics, improved product design, delivering meticulous insights, and many more.
These benefits are expected to introduce new levels of service, increased profit, and expansion of businesses, improved efficiency and cost structures In the global economy, AI indeed is helping certain professionals— but it’s also replacing millions of people. In the military sphere, automation is driving boots off the ground and eyes into the sky in a coming robotic world of war.
And whether it’s Siri, the bots that guide increasingly frustrated callers through automated phone trees, or the AI that checks out Facebook posts, the aim has been to counterfeit human beings — “machines like me,” as Ian McEwan called them in his 2019 novel of that title — while concealing the strings that connect the creation to its creator.
The adoption of AI can be problematic. Science fiction writers and technologists have long worried about a future in which robots, achieving sentience, can take over the planet. The creation of a machine with human-like intelligence that could someday fool us into believing it’s one of us has often been described, with no small measure of trepidation, as the “singularity”. Respectable scientists like Stephen Hawking have argued that such a singularity will, in fact, mark the “end of the human race”. Furthermore, there are several problems that are creating concern among enterprise leaders.
However, many of the problems still come from a lack of insight into what is likely to happen with AI. The advent of AI has impacted the society negatively in many regard. One of the clear impacts is the increase of jobless ratio in the economy. As predicted by experts, more discoveries in AI industry would be seen in coming years that will cause disruptive changes in business, life and global economy.
Meanwhile, according to a report named “Creativity versus Robots”, the most open to computerization and jobs that could be replaced by robots are: office administrators, call-centre staff, librarians, cattle and crop farmers, loggers, miners, car salesmen, hotel staffs and many more. Unemployment will increase due to the replacement choice of capital owners or human resources managers for such efficiencies and innovation. As AI is replacing most of the repetitive tasks, human involvement is becoming less which will cause a major problem in the employment standards.
Every organization is looking to replace the minimum qualified individuals with AI robots which can do similar work with much more efficiency. In addition, a blind reliance on AI is another problem that businesses grapple with. This can happen when businesses assume they can blindly rely on the AI model. AI is a great servant but a poor master.
AI can be fantastic at triaging or automating processes up to 80-85% of “grunt-work” that would normally take 10x longer for humans to do, but that still leaves 15-20% of the work that requires subjective human oversight. Another factor which represents a major setback to the sustainability of businesses depending on AI is the human factor. Meanwhile, Ahmed Ali who is content marketing executive at DSRPT which specializes in applying AI to the development of businesses, has pointed out that as AI is updating its hardware and software on a regular basis, it needs to get updated with time to meet the latest requirements. Machines need repair and maintenance which incur plenty of costs. “It is a creation that requires huge costs as they are very complex. Individual developments can still be as high as $300,000 for a basic AI.” AI is making humans lazy with its applications automating most of the work.
We are getting addicted to these inventions which can cause a problem for our future generations and making human interaction more difficult. There is not a shadow of doubt that machines are much better when it comes to working efficiently but they cannot make human connection obsolete. Machines cannot develop a bond with humans which is an essential attribute when it comes to team management.
Machines can perform only those tasks which they are programmed to do, anything outside of that, they tend to give irrelevant outputs which could be a major setback. While many companies are starting to implement AI as much as they can, due to the many advantages the technology has, there are downsides to its implementation, one of the biggest downsides being the lack of human input and thought processes. While AI can be great for completing simple tasks, when it comes to more complex tasks the need for human interpretation becomes ever more apparent.
AI cannot always account for constant change and adaptation like humans can since there is no thought process and experience. It is therefore important that companies, in the future, ensure that the tasks that they aim to fulfil with AI will rather complement their staff’s work, rather than replace it. Nonetheless, the disadvantages can be overcome if businesses approach AI as a technology that can be leveraged to help employees and not replace their functions and also adapt to changes in the business workflows.
Africa could Leverage AI for rapid Economic Development
AI has the potential to solve most of the pressing challenges that has bedevilled the African continent for ages. It is capable of driving sustainable development in agriculture, health, infrastructure, financial and public services in Africa.
AI could also be employed in detecting and tracking changes in the environment that could aid decision making to make industries and businesses more efficient, productive and profitable in Africa. In light of this, it is important for governments across the continent to support research and development, technology acquisition and infrastructure development fit for digital economy. Africa has to realize the immense opportunities offered by AI.
For instance, global investment in AI start-ups has grown from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $37.4 billion by 2019. AI computing power doubles every 3.4 months; 58% of large businesses have adopted AI in some of their operations. Africa needs to match and outperform the global averages if it can address some of the key challenges. Meanwhile, among the key challenges that African countries need to address are: Build the work force that is ready for AI by addressing the education and quality of research and development systems to ensure they are fit for purpose, innovation and entrepreneurial in nature.
African tech savvies must encourage the public and private sector to collaborate in design of AI solutions, promote open data and open access data and open government data principles to encourage research and businesses to build smart systems. More so, governments across the continent must increase funding and investment in high-speed internet and cloud computing. Modern infrastructure with security, speed and processing powers that AI demands must also be prioritised. All in all, like a two edged sword, AI has contributed tremendously in the world of business and at the same time, adversely impacted it and humanity.