AI invasion: A global threat or valuable opportunity?   - The EE

AI invasion: A global threat or valuable opportunity?  

From major advances in medicine to taking the automotive industry by storm, the widespread implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming global industry at every level. As technologies, such as Big Data, robotics, and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to advance at a phenomenal rate, AI is becoming a key driver in global innovation, says Dr. Ray O. Johnson, chief executive officer, Technology Innovation Institute (TII).

The market size of AI is rapidly expanding, with technological research and consulting firm Gartner predicting that AI software will reach $62 billion (€59.04 billion) by the end of 2022, an increase of 21.3% from 2021; while PwC‘s ‘Global Artificial Intelligence’ study suggests that the AI industry will be worth more than $15 trillion (€14.28 trillion) by 2030. That predicted growth has been met with both excitement and apprehension as AI is now seen as a gamechanger that will impact almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Throughout the pandemic, humankind witnessed tremendous gains brought about by AI technology. As the world required urgent health solutions during these unprecedented times, AI was at the core of the development of COVID-19 vaccinations at unparalleled speeds. In our digital-first world, we are now living in an era of AI ‘invasion’, and while technological advancements have always been met with some trepidation, it is critical that AI’s momentum is fully utilised.

In its simplest form, AI relates to the creation of intelligent systems that can imitate and possibly exceed human intelligence. AI has come into its own largely due to the need to analyse and organise huge volumes of data generated by global digitalisation. AI can be broken down into three types: Artificial Narrow Intelligence that has a narrow range of abilities; Artificial General Intelligence that has capability to a human cognitive level, and Artificial Superintelligence that has cognitive capability far beyond that of humans.

Industry is reaping the benefits of the intelligence and automation that AI delivers as it enables organisations to make notable strides in increasing performance, streamlining processes and enhancing data security. According to PWC’s 2022 AI Business Survey, companies that holistically advance AI to achieve business transformations to enhance decision-making and modernise systems and processes see greater success than those that take a singular approach. Substantial value can be created from AI initiatives that improve productivity, decision-making, innovation, employee experience, and more, all by incorporating and analysing more information than a human could do on their own.

While AI technologies are being implemented across multiple sectors, there continues to be a widespread lack of familiarity around its vast yet untapped capabilities. AI is primarily known for scaling tasks at a rate that cannot be matched by humans and undertaking manual tasks to a point where human intervention is no longer required. However, the possibilities of AI are far greater than its use in current applications and its full potential has yet to be realised.

Today, we are beginning to witness a glimpse of that potential in key sectors, such as telecommunications, security, and autonomous vehicles. In an era of digitisation, the growth of Internet connectivity and the penetration of IoT-based smart devices, there is far greater demand for AI within the telecommunications industry. The expectation, with the roll out of 5G and 6G, will be to provide services that deliver increased capacity and operate at lower latency while accommodating the mass adoption of IoT. This evolution will require the automation of network systems using AI driven applications and software solutions. By utilising AI and machine learning, telcos can better analyse and extract valuable insights from vast amounts of data to provide more efficient and reliable services for their end-users.

AI and machine learning have also become essential to information security and the defence sector, given their ability to swiftly analyse millions of data sets and track down a wide variety of cyber threats, from malware to phishing. A major cyberattack disrupting Internet or mobile data access could cost the UK more than £2.4 billion ($3.2 billion (€3.05 billion)) a day. This fact highlights the vital role that AI-powered software is playing in the digital defence threat landscape. AI and machine learning enable organisations to keep abreast of cybercriminals as they employ ever more sophisticated tactics, far surpassing the protection offered by more conventional software solutions.

The power of AI is also being harnessed in the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs), which require decision-making intelligence to manoeuvre, accelerate, and brake in response to swiftly changing road and live traffic events. AI supports AVs in a variety of ways, including quickly processing and interpreting the copious amounts of data generated by the vehicle’s cameras and sensors, as well as helping to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and safety. The global autonomous car market was valued at $22.2 billion (€21.14 billion) in 2021 with an expected value of $76 billion (€72.37 billion) by 2027, and applications for the broad adoption of AVs are abundant. They range from potentially lowering transportation costs with driverless vehicles to transforming mobility networks in urban environments.

Beyond its applications in industry, AI is also addressing and solving critical global issues, such as food insecurity and water scarcity. Through transforming agricultural practices and revolutionising the global food supply chain, AI technologies can feed the future by providing access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food for the masses. Autonomous technologies and AI are creating the biggest impact on making current agricultural processes more efficient, improving crop quality, and increasing yield.

Dr. Ray O. Johnson

The agricultural industry poses a perfect problem for AI and machine learning to solve. Huge data sets around crop health, weather, soil condition, moisture, nutrients levels, combined with in-ground sensors, can help this technology produce a highly accurate yield map, giving farmers access to analysis and insights to facilitate more effective decision-making.

While the world is undergoing an AI ‘invasion’, which is set to revolutionise many sectors, the way it is utilised within software systems still needs to be better understood. It will have major implications across the whole of society, yet AI protocols on equality, privacy, and regulatory processes are still evolving. AI adoption and building a credible framework to underpin its function must now be a priority for technology, business and policy leaders around the world.

To learn more about Technology Innovation Institute (TII) click here.

The author is Dr. Ray O. Johnson, chief executive officer, Technology Innovation Institute (TII).

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