You probably know that by 2022 an estimated 5 million jobs worldwide will be lost to AI-enabled automation technologies. You probably also know that Oxford University says that 47 percent of American jobs are at risk of being automated, and you probably know two or three more harrowing statistics along the same lines.
But did you know that AI is able to spot genetic diseases that human doctors can’t detect? Or greatly reduce power consumption using smart energy grids? Or educate children with hyperpersonal teaching techniques ? Scary numbers like those above are used liberally for attention-getting headlines (guilty), but we rarely focus on the huge potential for positive global impact that AI can and will have — if we begin fostering its growth in positive directions through transparency and thoughtful collaboration.
Not all scary
People are nervous about the world their children will grow up in, wary of AI’s impending impact on the business world and job market. But entrepreneurs and an optimists don’t think AI is all bad news. In fact, they believe the benefits of AI will far outweigh any of the setbacks of its upheaval. But there is a real danger of this potential never being realized if we continue to encourage the culture of fear surrounding AI.
We can build a brighter future, and AI can help us do it. But major stakeholders — governments, tech companies, researchers, and educators — must work together to develop global solutions that take into account the social impact (both good and bad) that AI will undoubtedly cause.
An end to AI-solation
The AI bandwagon is standing room only. Organizations are scrambling to incorporate machine learning into their business models no matter their industries: 2016 was a record year for AI investment, and by 2019, the market for machine learning applications will reach over $30 billion.
Competition to be “the AI company” is fierce. After 25 years in tech, I’d say the AI industry is the most cutthroat I’ve seen. Google and Uber are still battling over self-driving car trade secrets. Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are racing to produce the best virtual assistant. And companies are paying huge salaries for entry-level AI experts. AI is pitting top tech companies against one another, and the stakes are higher than ever.
A consequence of this secrecy-obsessed infrastructure is big resources being dedicated to a small number of projects. Research and development also tends to focus on the flashiest and most consumer-facing initiatives — self-driving cars, chatbots, and virtual assistants — leaving little work dedicated to solutions for health, clean energy, education, and more. Not only do we need to prioritize these more socially impactful technologies, but we need to work together to create them. […]
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