Opportunities and Risks of AI

After a long time of silence, AI is recently appearing a lot in news, articles, films, etc., and people start to realize that something has happened in the background that can and will affect their lives, in business as well as privately.

A lot of the news about AI have a negative connotation – films picture the effects of singularities can have (a good example is “Ex Machina”), and articles report about companies planning to replace workforce by AI (recently, a Japanese insurance company announced the replacement of workforce by IBM Watson) [See Artificial intelligence to replace human staff at Japanese insurance company].

On the other hand, AI can offer a lot of chances by fulfilling routine tasks, therewith giving people more room to think and develop new ideas. A good example of this is the use of AI in the legal field, where AI, for example, can be used for contract management [See Artificial Intelligence Has Found a Home in Contract Management   and many other articles about AI in the legal field ]. Contracts are often mechanical, highly organized and filled with boilerplate language. They can also be exceedingly long and unwieldy, taking huge amounts of time and resources for attorneys to parse the content of a contract and assess its merits or needs. Such type of work can be addressed by AI, therewith giving the attorneys more time to concentrate on case-specific details.

These examples show that the use of AI leads to a number of opportunities and risks, and the important question for any organization is: What will we do with regards to the use of AI?   Doing nothing and waiting for things to happen might not be a good option as competitors can take action and go ahead with a use of AI that brings their business forward and claiming more market shares. Jumping ahead and immediately employ AI mechanisms without a sound analysis might also not be the best of all ideas, as this can lead to unforeseen problems. One crucial question, for example, is: which is/are the best business area(s) where AI can be applied, and in which form can AI be applied to benefit the organization as well as the people working in it?

So what to do now? The best an organization can do is to carefully and fairly assess the opportunities and risks of the use of AI in their particular business, and base the decisions on the use of AI on results of a sound assessment that produces reliable and repeatable results. Typical questions that can be asked are:

  • How much can AI improve the work of the organization?
  • Can future customer demands being met without the use of AI?
  • What will competitors do?
  • Will the deployment of an AI solution create too much dependency on the service provider?

It is important that each organization does its own assessment; each business is unique, so are its customer base and their requirements.

About Singularities:

A singularity is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization; this has been predicted by great thinkers, such as Stephen Hawking and Ray Kurzweil – but not in the near future.