The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. And the world as we know it is coming to an end.  Machines are a threat to humanity. Artificial intelligence (AI) will take our jobs . . . These statements are widely tossed around in relation to the AI boom over recent years, but are they based on fact or fiction? Here, Bold Business looks at the real uses and limitations of AI.

Elon Musk, “We need to be super careful with artificial intelligence. It is potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

Everybody knows that the concept of AI is based around computer systems performing tasks and functions formerly undertaken by humans. These tasks range from computation to translation, storage of information to speech and facial recognition, and now, a type of independent decision-making called machine learning.

According to Arrk, a global design and software services company, anything that involves a program doing something that would normally rely on the intelligence of a human is classed as artificial intelligence or AI.

This rather low bar is considerably different from what of us in the human world regard as AI. It is commonplace to assume that AI involves some sort of intelligence and judgment, but the truth is most of what is regarded as AI are very simple if/then functions and basic computation. Both of these are areas where computers truly excel.

AI May Replace or Automate Some Jobs

Picture of robots in line.

In a subject Bold Business has touched on before, in relation to computer systems taking the place of humans in the workplace, this threat is now real. Fukoko Mutual Life Insurance in Japan is a prime example. “In January 2017, they fired 34 employees after acquiring a new artificial intelligence system that could read medical certificates, gather data on hospital stays and surgeries, and, in the process, save the company an estimated 140 million Yen per year in salary costs,” Arrk reports.

In 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that more than 5 million jobs will be lost to artificial intelligence over the next five years.

Although there are clear negatives to AI implementation, the consensus is that the sector will help improve humanity, not hinder it.

An example of positive gains is evident in many sectors where AI is being used to combat bank fraud, help improve education standards and prevent insurance fraud. An example of the latter, Tractable launched a system which flags suspicious claims and helps to reduce fraud and could save the insurance industry billions each year.

According to Technologist, some fret that artificial intelligence will end civilization as we know it. Others believe it can solve problems. The reality, however, is somewhere in between.

Several studies have predicted that the far-reaching implications of AI are much more positive than negative and the technology should be used to improve humanity and fundamentally help it. Experts predict that “intelligent machines will have a bold impact on how we work, how we move and even how wars are fought.”

Elon Musk Says We Have to be “Super Careful”

Elon Musk, one of the pioneers of creating a better world through innovation, said: “we need to be super careful with artificial intelligence. It is potentially more dangerous than nukes.” This statement sent shockwaves around the world. Coming from Musk, one of the world’s greatest technophiles, it really hit home how important AI is and how much of an impact it will make.

One of the most exciting developments surrounding AI of late is the concept of deep learning, which uses a brain-like processor to recognize patterns in large data sets. AlphaGO, devised by Google’s UK-based DeepMind, demonstrated this when it managed to beat a human in the ancient Chinese board game of Go. The game was thought to have been so complex that a machine could never beat a human, yet the machine triumphed over South Korea’s Lee Sedol, considered to be the world’s finest player, by four games to one.

“But data can come in a wide variety of forms, and in the last few years, the technique has been used to automate many other tasks that conventional programs struggle with, including identifying images, recognizing speech and even driving cars,” Technologist reports.

However, unlike humans, AI software is still unable to carry out multiple complex operations at the same time, but computer geniuses around the world are working hard to perfect this task. The onset of deep learning has set the AI wheels in motion again, as the endless possibilities of what can be achieved through the technology are yet to be realized. Leading physicist Stephen Hawking warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race” and the latest developments could throw up yet more debate in this forever evolving industry. Only time will tell!

black and white logo of Bold Wire for Bold Business
The Bold Wire delivers our latest global news, exclusive top stories, industry leading infographics, powerful interviews and bold opinions. It is a free weekly newsletter.