AI is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly is AI? According to banking experts like Dan Schatt, in its most basic definition, AI is the ability of a machine to respond in an expected or intentional way to external stimuli. We’re all familiar with Siri and Google Now, for example. These are examples of AI that can be found in our phones today.
In recent years, however, there has been a lot the internet has written about artificial intelligence and how it is radically changing many aspects of our lives. There are books, seminars, courses, and university degrees focusing on AI. Google alone spends over $300 million annually to support AI research in various universities around the world.
AI in Business
The applications of AI to business and management are starting to be explored, from automated language translations to software that can write entire novels based on a prompt. This means that there is likely no industry that will not see its share of AI-influenced changes in the coming years. In fact, according to a recent survey by McKinsey, over 70% of businesses in the US and Europe indicate that they already use AI tools in their operations or intend to do so in the near future.
Luxury and apparel industry insiders report that AI is beginning to transform how we shop. For example, The North Face uses AI to create a virtual interlocutor who can help you select the right products for your intended use. The same technology is used in smart homes, where it can assist in setting up an automated energy system or direct you to the nearest grocery store when you’re running low on food. Within the next few years, these virtual assistants could be managing every aspect of our lives – from our daily schedules to our medical records.
This is already happening at many companies using AI to equip their sales teams with an always-on, 24/7 virtual assistant available through SMS, email, or chat. This virtual assistant will help them accomplish more by knowing their customers better than they do themselves. It can tap into the company’s core data systems and provide information that had never been connected – like which products are trending for each customer, how their competitors are marketing to this same person, etc. While it may seem creepy to have an automated system monitoring your personal preferences on a day-to-day basis, something tells me I’m not alone in welcoming this technological advancement!
Are Our Fears Unfounded?
Some skeptics say that our fears about digital automation taking away human jobs are unfounded. However, in a recent interview, MIT Economics Professor David Autor stated that he does not believe that automation will replace most of the workforce in the very near future. So it appears that we have nothing to fear from AI taking over our jobs just yet!
However, it’s worth noting that as these technologies make your life more efficient and provide you with all kinds of new services and conveniences (free or nearly free), they are coming at a cost: privacy. So we should take some time now to think about how we want to go forward as consumers and employees because AI might be here sooner than we think.