Artificial intelligence (AI), once the realm of science fiction writers, can now be found almost everywhere you look. From social media to the medical field, machines with the capability to analyze data and solve problems are increasingly doing work that previously required the human touch, often more efficiently and accurately. The fact that AI is rapidly transforming large sectors of society is undeniable. But what are the pros and cons of this brave new world?
Benefits for Business Owners
For business owners looking to promote their products and services, AI can be an amazing tool. Because of its ability to quickly automate many routine tasks like responding to customer inquiries and sending promotional emails, implementing AI in marketing strategies is a savvy business move. Not only can businesses be more responsive to customer needs, but AI can quickly analyze sales data and more, creating in-depth reports that help inform future business decisions.
Many businesses also find that AI increases customer satisfaction by making the shopping experience more personalized and engaging. With the rise in popularity of online shopping, consumers increasingly demand information in real-time, at all hours of the day and night. An AI-powered chatbot never sleeps and is always available to answer routine questions, provide additional information, and redirect customers to a human when necessary.
Implications for Employees
Proponents of AI in the workplace say that by tackling the more mundane tasks, AI frees up employees to focus on the more creative and fulfilling aspects of their jobs. For example, a customer service representative who is supported by AI can let the machine respond to routine matters automatically. When an escalation occurs, that rep can interact more profoundly with the customer, using the human skills of empathy and kindness to resolve the situation.
Some critics of the rapid growth of AI worry that machines are replacing humans at an alarming rate, pushing manual workers out faster than they can be retrained for other jobs. Without aggressive job training and placement programs, they fear, many people in lower-paying positions may find themselves unemployed and struggling to survive.
Effects on Creative Endeavors
In creative industries like gaming and movie production, AI is all the rage. Because AI-powered programs can analyze a huge amount of data quickly and use it to predict likely outcomes, some producers are already using it to create storylines and write scripts. This time and cost-saving technique could revolutionize the entertainment industry, making it possible for aspiring creators to develop movies, games, and more without a big budget.
Of course, there is a potential downside to the use of AI in creative endeavors. Some people worry that humans will become dependent on AI and lose their own innovation and problem-solving capacity. Because AI only relies on past experiences to arrive at decisions, it is incapable of thinking outside the box. A thoughtful combination of human and AI interaction will be needed to balance creativity and efficiency.
Consequences of Built-In Biases
Unlike humans, AI-powered programs don't judge. AI operates strictly on the data it is fed, free from the errors that can result from fatigue, bias, and other human frailties. AI simply synthesizes the information it is provided and then makes decisions and predictions autonomously.
On the other hand, because AI is programmed by humans, bias can be built into the code. Any distortions coded into the program will skew the results and can result in algorithms that are inherently discriminatory against specific populations. Many believe it will take deliberate, concerted efforts to tackle bias in AI and humans, but this is critically important work.
Implications for the Future
Clearly, AI is here to stay. And, like any technology, it has risks and rewards. Discerning the best way to integrate AI's power into human society will be an evolving process but one with great potential. With the awesome analytical power of AI combined with humans' intellectual strength, creative solutions to many of the world's most pressing problems may be within reach.