First published at Sunday Business & IT, December 29, 2019.
One gift I received during the holidays is Amy Webb’s book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a buzzword. AI is here. Noted tech and social media writer and academic Amy Webb defines AI in its basic form as a system that makes autonomous decisions. The tasks AI performs “duplicate or mimic acts of human intelligence, like recognizing sounds and objects, solving problems, understanding language and using strategy to meet goals.”
Webb also pinpoints the big nine tech giants who would shape the control of AI and our destiny. On one hand are the US-based companies with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple (the “G-Mafia”). In another corner of the world is China’s Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT).
According to Webb, these nine companies hold the most control over cloud computing, research, data, and the popular frameworks used by developers and would then define the future of AI. In the introduction, Webb asserts, “The Big Nine aren’t the villains in this story. In fact, they are our best hope for the future.” I am not convinced of the big nine’s noble intentions since most corporations prioritize commercial and political interests over the public good. Amy Webb’s Big Nine predicts the impact of AI and tech giants over the next 50 years ranging from optimistic to the pragmatic to catastrophic. Like Webb, I believe AI could be a positive force, “one that elevate the generations of humankind and help us achieve our most idealistic visions of the future,” but we need to make choices.
There’s no denying that AI would become more than just talk in 2020. “AI has already started to feel like an old conversation. But the reality is that it’s only just off the starting blocks in many industries,” Martin Taylor, deputy chief executive officer at Content Guru mentioned in an interview with ITProPortal. John Ocampos of Techiexpert identified the upcoming trends of AI developments in 2020.
Cybersecurity powered by AI technology would make it easier to detect data breaches and other malicious activities using updated security software
Artificial Intelligence integrated in the Internet of Things (IoT) may be seen in vehicles. It could apply to blockchain to focus on security, scalability, and other concerns.
Development of AI System in media and entertainment could help filmmakers and game developers pursue story ideas, production, scriptwriting and acting.
Real-time interactions with customers across all platforms is expected to happen in marketing activities. Research from industry-leading analyst, Gartner suggests that in 2020, AI would handle 80 percent of customer service interactions. This is not surprising at all since some corporations already handle customer interactions through an automated chatbot. I believe AI would never replace empathy but an improved AI System Assistance would be one of the biggest improvements expected in 2020.
Artificial Intelligence may also add computer vision processing that may improve operational efficiency in different industries.
What does it mean to have AI in our lives? In the next 10 years, the skills you need are the soft skills. The advice of Piyush Gupta, chief executive of DBS Bank is “you would need philosophy, psychology and emotional science because the biggest challenge in society in the next 10 years is having to reimagine the rules of society.” Engage in continuous learning. A wealth of online resources is available for those who want to keep their skills up to date.
Everyone could play a role in the future of Artificial Intelligence. While it is important to look into the long-range impact of AI to humanity, each one of us could take small steps on decisions we make about AI. People should make the effort of the pros and cons in surrendering their personal data records to the big data companies. They should be able to demand transparency, and accountability from the custodians of their personal data. Amy Webb suggests that you help others in your family and in your life learn more about AI, how the ecosystem use your data and how we’re already part of the Big Nine has been building. The conversation belongs to everyone, not just people working in the AI ecosystem.