What is artificial intelligence and what can be its impacts?
Although it may do some tasks as human beings, technology will not be able to replace creativity. It’s a little weird to talk about artificial intelligence (AI). After all, this trait is innate in humans. Even so, scholars are increasingly developing ways to make machines learn from experience and thus do tasks as human beings.
In fiction, AI always appears in the body of humanoid robots ready to take over the world. For now, however, there is no cause for concern: technology is not that smart yet. On the other hand, it offers benefits for many different segments.
The term was coined in 1956 and early research explored problem solving and symbolic methods. In the 1960s, the US Department of Defense became interested in technology, and then began training for computers to mimic basic human reasoning.
These early works paved the way for the automation and formal thinking that is present in today’s computers. This includes decision support methods and intelligent research systems – which can complement and expand human capabilities.
Already in the 1970s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) completed a street mapping project. The solution we use today, Google Maps, was not launched until 2005.
The same agency developed smart personal assistants in 2003. At that time, the current Google Assistant and Alexa (or even the predecessors Siri and Cortana) didn’t even cross the mind of the average consumer. Able to recognize voices and act on the orders they receive, they are an important aid to many people today.
Although the first studies were over 60 years old, the concept of AI has only become popular now. This is because the amount of data available grows exponentially, the algorithms are more advanced, and there are improvements in computational power and storage.
AI has one important limitation: the only way to incorporate knowledge into it is through data entry. This means that additional forecasting or analysis layers must be added separately. Oh, and any inaccuracies are reflected in the results.
That’s why today’s systems are trained to do very specific tasks. That is, a system that plays poker cannot play chess, for example. A tool that detects tax fraud cannot do the same in collateral claims. The feature used in a standalone car is not meant to give legal advice. That is, they are far from behaving like human beings.
It is important, therefore, to keep in mind that AI will not replace the human being. The idea is to support him by expanding his capabilities and making him better at what he does. This is because AI algorithms can find patterns that humans cannot – after all, they learn differently and therefore view situations differently.
A 2018 study shows that in Brazil, 69% of companies invest in employee training when it comes to the use of AI, as well as establishing committees to oversee the use of technology. This is because it is essential that they are ethical and responsible in applying it.
Companies are concerned about the impact of decisions made by artificial intelligence systems. When you want to engage customers, for example, there is a fear that some actions will not guarantee sufficient empathy or diminish consumer confidence.
In Brazil, the percentage of technology adoption reaches 65%. Of this total, 62% of companies claim to have implemented it in its entirety, but some companies still have it in prototype and trial phase. The main benefits reported from using AI were:
improved customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention (60%);
better use of resources (60%);
improvement in product quality (60%);
increased innovation (67%);
extract data insights faster (65%).
Instead of replacing the human being, AI expands its capabilities and makes them better. Even so, nearly 20% of respondents globally are concerned about their jobs with the arrival of technology – in Brazil, it is 9%. There is also another concern: the impact of AI on employee relations and how they may feel threatened or overwhelmed – Brazil and Australia have the highest percentage, both with 80%.
Overall, then, AI has the potential to transform all industries as it can improve from operational efficiency to productivity. Nevertheless, one must know her limits and understand how she makes decisions. This is the only way to ensure that you trust it – which is essential for its widespread adoption.
There are still challenges to overcome, but many see the use of technology as an advantage, especially in more accountable roles. In Brazil, 73% believe that applying AI to operational tasks allows employees to focus on strategic activities.
AI can thus free people from tasks that do not challenge creativity and easily automate monotonous functions. Examples include call center operation, document classification, content moderation, production process operation and support, and opening bank accounts, among others.
This is because such processes have a predictable pattern of repetitive activities that can be replicated by machine learning algorithms. Even complex activities, such as those that require processing large data sets in real time (in autonomous vehicles, for example), can use AI to observe, decide or act from well-defined optimization functions.
In this scenario, it is not yet clear which skills will be required in the future. It is therefore essential to understand the talents, skills and capabilities in the face of this new technology. It is clear then that implementing AI is necessary, but each company must define how fast to do so.