by Tom O’Connell
Why AI can replicate our behaviours but won’t ever replace us.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been sitting cosy in the front carriage of the tech hype train and they’re not alighting anytime soon. Historic fears that AI would eventually steal every available job is evaporating and businesses and consumers alike are seeing AI as an enhancement of their daily activities, not a replacement.
This is not a new phenomenon of panic that new tech will come and destroy our present methods. In 1981, The Buggles released their hit single ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, unequivocally outlining that the visual medium was going to replace the airwaves and even went so far as to already lament the loss of their soon-to-be-slain audio veteran.
But it was not to be. Radio would survive numerous alleged attempts on its existence, and each time a modern technology arrived with shiny weapons, it would shift accordingly, adapting itself to not only survive, but to thrive in a new world.
Radio has moved online, with the ability to pause, rewind, and download. Radio combined with AI assistants has made it even more accessible. You’re just an Alexa command away from finding a plethora of songs that the outdated top 40 could ever dream to deliver. And all this has resulted in one thing: enhancement of the human experience.
But how is this helping businesses in the corporate world?
AI can help in two definitive ways. One, is that it helps the business. Whether that is cost saving because it automates a process, boosting productivity because it helps organisation, or driving revenue because of tailored recommendations.
The other, is that it helps the consumer. This can include chatbots that improve customer service, recommendation systems that enhance the product, or assistants that simplify tasks.
Throughout 2018, organisations have raced to implement AI strategies, seeking to gain a competitive edge, particularly in retail and e-commerce, where the margins of difference between competitors are often a few pence. Therefore, the customer experience and ease of service can be the defining nuance in converting a customer or being left to unpack and restock a hefty virtual basket.
Analysing trends and applying the results in real-time to tailor the experience is crucial, and without significant data on a new customer, algorithms look to analyse historic records on similar psychographics to segment the journey accordingly.
In healthcare, AI is utilised by training it to examine and analyse images and data in the same manner a human would, but with higher precision at a speed that is not possible for doctors.
Whilst this does not replace doctors, it maximises opportunities in leveraging reliability and predictability, allowing doctors to be more efficient and effective. It would never be left without supervision as subjectivity and mistakes can occur, however, it can potentially spot the results of the human errors that can arise in complicated circumstances.
The key to unlocking all the benefits of AI lies in the explicit understanding that whilst able to replicate human tasks, it is not going to culminate in our redundancy. Instead, like radio, we will adapt as always to a changing world, and usually we are pleased to do so.
We are often swift to adopt innovative technologies, such as new phones, laptops, and apps that automate and enhance the laborious tasks we undertake. However, it seems there is often an ingrained perception left by yesteryear’s Hollywood sci-fi that invokes fear with AI. Now, with the mass adoption of AI and the observable evidence of good it can achieve, those fears are being swept off into ancient folklore.
We should feel as comfortable as the radio, and just as Freddy Mercury sang in ‘Radio Gaga’, we too “have yet to have our finest hour.”
“Alexa, end sentence.”