- Posted by RAD Team
- On January 10, 2018
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of our daily life. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and a growing number of other companies of all sizes rely on AI for their daily operations. Computers’ exponential increases in processing power and connectivity to global knowledge bases allow for amazing applications, but adding human elements creates an even more forceful combination. Technological advances in hardware and networks — think computer vision (judging distances, material and texture), hearing (distinguishing noise from speech and words from each other) and creativity (drawing pictures, composing music) — have allowed AI to progress tremendously over the years. And it is these developments, and the blend between robots and human interaction, that will allow AI to contribute to a variety of sectors, such as food production, government interaction, medical testing and more.
The Assimilation of Automation AI into Society
Since the Industrial Revolution more than 200 years ago, the rate of machine and automation implementation has become increasingly important in our society. Look around, they are everywhere: from desktop computers to the machines that produce airplane wings. And now we have AI-enhanced machines improving business efficiency and customer satisfaction in every sphere.
When we go to the airport, we use fully automated self-service check-in kiosks that read our passports and guide us through the bag check and ticketing process. When we land and have to pass through customs, machines read our forms, connect to a variety of global databases and make a preliminary evaluation on whether the paperwork checks out. Despite this reliance on automation, only the human border control officer can really tell if someone might look “wrong” and whether their story about where they have been and why makes sense. This is an important point that we’ll discuss later on in this piece: people-as-a-premium.
Look at Uber, which has totally disrupted the taxi industry. The Uber app, and its backend services processing, tracks/compares/predicts demand and supply for an inconceivable number of variables that are changing in real time. Efficient artificial intelligence algorithms allow Uber to maximize their customer service and profit opportunities.
I predict the pace of change in this kind of use of expert systems will continue to accelerate. Robotic automation powered by artificial intelligence will play an ever-increasing role in every aspect of human activity. Today, we are seeing a lot of growth in the security and business sectors. For example, companies, utilities and government agencies needing enhanced or expanded layers of security are turning to robots – or unmanned ground vehicles – to work alongside humans. These robots – equipped with 360-degree cameras constantly recording video – use a variety of AI-driven navigation systems to patrol and help humans take care of security needs in dangerous environments, or environments where the work is so repetitive and boring that mistakes are common. A security robot doesn’t get bored. It also doesn’t need breaks, is not bothered by weather conditions, doesn’t get sick and can likely patrol for 12 hours at a time without tiring.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. So, what does the future hold?
The Next 100 Years
Employment, and the workforce, is changing. There’s no question, for instance, that AI and robotics are continuing the automation trends begun with the Industrial Revolution, albeit at an ever-increasing pace. But that’s mostly due to robots being designed for these types of processes. The fact that robots will do mundane tasks, repetitive processes or dangerous jobs hour after hour, month after month without breaks drives productivity across the board. For example, Drake Trailer installed one welding robot in 2008 and it bumped company productivity by 60 percent. And when Southwest installed check-in kiosks at LAX, the human agents were reassigned to do what humans do better than any machine: interact, engage, smile, listen to problems, be sensitive and sort out complex travel situations.
And that’s the key. People-as-a-premium. Humans like interacting with humans, especially if there’s a problem or something intricate to resolve. It just works better. And it always will. What we have to do is give people the space to change the kind of work they do. Robots are going to do (almost) all the work. But nothing will ever completely substitute for human help.
Artificial intelligence is set to fundamentally change society and radically improve people’s lives. Today, for example, machines trained by deep learning for image recognition can now identify plaque in arteries. Experts at Harvard are using GPUs to simulate blood flow and identify hidden arterial plaque without invasive exploratory surgery. With heart attacks being a leading cause of death worldwide, the potential impact of this technology on our health is huge.
Meanwhile in another completely separate use case, researchers at NASA use GPUs to reduce the analysis time for looking at air traffic flow in computer models from ten minutes to three seconds. And elsewhere, AI is joining the fight against cancer. Image recognition computers can now identify tumors in MRI scans and indicators for cancer in blood.
Overall, AI is going to free us up to move to more satisfying work. The combination of artificial intelligence and people-as-a-premium will not only make us financially richer, but our lives will be richer too. That is the robot dividend.
Nothing can substitute for human-to-human interaction. Robots will do all kinds of things for us, but when we work together (and play together), nothing beats it. People will always be the premium.
People-as-a-premium is my mantra and my maxim for society as we walk hand-in-hand with artificial intelligence into the future.
Access the complete book, An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence by Steve Reinharz, on Amazon.
This article originally appeared in the January issue of SST.