Artificial Intelligence and its impact on society
For centuries, human beings have been working towards inventing new ways for making life better. Every once in a while, a revolutionary invention comes along with the power to advance humanity and change the course of history. From the wheel to the World Wide Web, there have been a lot of inventions that resulted in achieving efficiency in the work we do.
One such technological advancement is Artificial Intelligence, popularly known as AI. AI is changing the way we work and live and we see a lot of examples of how AI is affecting the society and impacting our lifestyle. But what really is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. A more vivid definition will be any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as "learning" and "problem solving".
You've probably seen news articles about how much value AI is creating. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, AI is estimated to create an additional 13 trillion US dollars of economic output annually by the year 2030, boosting global GDP by about 1.2 percent a year. Even though AI is already creating tremendous amounts of value into software industry, a lot of the value to be created in the future lies outside the software industry. In sectors such as retail, travel, transportation, automotive, materials, manufacturing and so on. I should have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don't think AI will have a huge impact on in the next several years.
AI is currently being used in a lot of day to day applications like speech recognition, online advertising, building self-driving car, where having a high-performance, highly accurate is important. The researchers are working on making this technology fool proof and it is not far away when we will see self-driven cars moving around with us on the roads and perhaps driving better than humans.
In the current context, AI is extensively being used in doing the research and coming out with a potential vaccine for Coronavirus COVID-19 which has wreaked havoc across geographies in 2020. Machine Learning, part of AI, is being used to simulate the results that a vaccine will have on the affected people. Major pharmaceutical companies across the world is using this technology to leverage AI-derived knowledge graph, which integrates biomedical data from structured and unstructured sources.
Before the rise of modern AI, automation had already had a huge impact on a lot of jobs. With the rise of AI, the set of things we can now automate is suddenly much bigger than before, and so this is also having an accelerating impact on jobs. McKinsey Global Institute did a study in which they estimated that 400 to 800 million jobs will be displaced by AI automation by 2030. On the flip side though, the same report also estimates that the number of jobs created by AI may be even larger. It says that India’s labour force is expected to grow by 138 million people by 2030, or about 30 percent. India could create enough new jobs to offset automation and employ these new entrants by undertaking the investments in AI and its related technologies.
The software industry is already investing billions in developing new applications using AI which will have a long-lasting impact on our daily life. They should also focus on creating value for the society through innovations which will benefit the common man. But there is a huge scope for the traditional industries to adopt this technology and automate most of the mundane jobs in the assembly line and redeploy the human resources to more satisfying job roles.
On the other hand, Artificial intelligence has a range of uses in government. It can be used to further public policy objectives (in areas such as emergency services, health and welfare), as well as assist the public to interact with the government (through the use of virtual assistants, for example). The government should setup specific committees who should identify opportunities to implement artificial intelligence in governance, infrastructure, healthcare and even policing and defence. The government should define a broad AI strategy with a clear purpose and mission and identify the right use cases to implement this technology on a larger scale.
Finally, we should not view Artificial Intelligence as a threat to our existence. Rather we should embrace it with a positive attitude, learn the nuances of it and help it to help us make our life better. AI is here to stay and it will evolve into a better human tool through technological advances which will benefit us as a society and help us achieve better efficiency in what we do.