As I’ve recently discussed in my latest blog post, artificial intelligence operates most efficiently when it is commoditising intelligence and decision making. Simple and repetitive tasks, and later complex and repetitive tasks, will be ‘solved’ through artificial intelligence. While we are starting to see real proof of the scientific and business benefits that come from this streamlining and processing of data, there are moral and ethical discussions beginning to take place.
There is a holy grail in Artificial Intelligence: to use technology to advance society with improved human-to-human collaboration. Many are concerned that artificial intelligence will displace humans in the workforce. It is true that there are jobs humans perform today which will be accomplished through artificial intelligence in the years to come, but it is important to remember that many human jobs of tomorrow centered around AI haven’t even been created yet. History has shown us that when innovations change the workforce, humans train into new roles that had never been conceived before. I recently listened to an excellent podcast that told the story of Honoré Blanc’s interchangeable parts which highlighted this point perfectly.
We do not need to be overly concerned; we are human. And human engagement is not something that can be easily commoditised. The ability to lead a team in a complex web of human interaction is not a task that will be, or should be, overtaken by AI. Interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence will be highly valued in the future of work. The leaders of tomorrow will no doubt turn to AI to sharpen their skills, but the empathic leader need not fear a future with AI as a member of the team or perhaps better stated, as a machine in the factory.
Recent, and historic, political events have shown that democracy is not safe from disruption. Video and audio manipulation via artificial intelligence have the potential to be applied in ways that are very hurtful to our societies. Twitter is just one organisation recognising the harm that can be caused and has recently introduced a new policy for addressing deepfake content for just this reason. At a macro level, these incidents highlight how trust will ultimately be the biggest inhibitor to the advancements that AI can bring. Unless we are vigilant, we run the risk of harming our democratic societies. Even at a business level, if we cannot trust the artificial intelligence, we will inherently doubt our own technology and ultimately ignore its output. Trust in any AI project must need to be earned through a continuous cycle of inaugural certification and continued testing.
AI will present humankind the opportunity to ask new questions. If you look at the healthcare field alone, AI is enabling doctors and researchers to find answers and look for new solutions across the entire spectrum from wellness, to treatment, to early detection, to end of life care. Take that same evolution and apply it across a number of other industries and you begin to see the potential of what AI is able to help us accomplish as a society that cares for its own.
As we start exploring those opportunities, and tying them back to our earlier discussion on human collaboration, we will be able to work more effectively towards common goals of any large problem, such as climate change. Technology and AI's potential to mitigate climate change was a key discussion item on an engaging panel I participated in today at the Sustainable Innovation Forum at the international Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid. If we are going to solve the problems that are being born from climate change, we cannot rely on brute force. We have to leverage data in a way that we have never done before. And we simply cannot waste our time performing irrelevant analyses. Artificial Intelligence is already proving to be an important ally that will allow us to process data in new and exciting ways. We can move beyond the limitations of the scientific method into a scheme with careful modeling is coupled with the empirical discovery capabilities of AI.
Needless to say we are just at the beginning of the AI journey and no doubt will see more questions raised than answered for the foreseeable future. But I can tell you this, once we have solved all of the world’s problems, I will turn the power of AI towards our football squads and getting our lads below organised with new and innovative strategies against our cross-town rivals. Because - in the end - AI must be about enabling human to human interaction - even the competitive kind!