Tech Trend: Companies get a better understanding of AI’s effects

In 2020, as AI makes inroads into professional services, companies will struggle with anticipating how AI can — or should — change their professions. AI is already changing the way contracts are interpreted, taxes are prepared and medical conditions are diagnosed. However, if the dominant strategy for deploying AI is for low-level problem solving, then companies could struggle with how to develop the human experts who will lead their profession in the future. As applications of AI become more advanced, companies will be forced to consider these and other unintended consequences.

Over the next year, we will see more companies begin to worry about the long-term effects of advanced applications of AI. This trend will affect every profession, from legal to art to politics. Some worry that as decision support systems get more sophisticated, there is a danger that professionals will lose touch with critical reasoning skills. Companies will get a better understanding of whether or not there is a tradeoff between the application of AI and potential skill loss.

We may see companies advocate for adversarial AI, where machines check the quality of human professionals’ actions by attempting to fool professionals with bogus input. These companies will have to consider, however, whether professionals are being robbed of crucial opportunities to learn from mistakes. On the other hand, perhaps better, more efficient ways to train people will emerge from such experiments.

Ideal interactions

In contrast to adversarial AI, we will also see positive actions to apply AI. AI leaders will begin to define ideal interactions between humans and machines and design futures where each benefit from the other. Historically, many significant technologies, from cotton gins to cars, were disruptive in the short term but greatly beneficial in the long term. We expect that applications of AI will follow the same pattern.

The promise of AI is that it can democratize access to services, information and convenience. Companies in virtually every profession can extend the same level of customization and personalized service enjoyed by the wealthy few to all through the deployment of low-cost intelligent agents. These software agents aren’t trying to rule the world or take over our lives, but augment and improve many important aspects of our lives.

Still, businesses will need to protect against unintended consequences of AI and respond quickly if a problem occurs. This requires a workforce trained to monitor AI, quickly detect improper bias or unsafe behavior and respond with corrective action. Profiling using AI must go beyond making the algorithm “black box” more transparent. Profilers will need to monitor future anticipated behavior for bias and safety by observing the intelligence that the AI learns over time.

Smarter, more meaningful work

The future is not about AI automating a core system and eliminating people. It’s more realistic to think of a network of people interacting with various core systems, where AI exposes intelligence hidden in the systems and improves the way we interact. Rather than making people obsolete, I believe that AI will make the modern worker and work itself smarter and more meaningful.

Over the next year we will see an acceleration in the deployment of embedded AI systems across virtually all professions and into all aspects of our daily lives. Rather than being something to fear, the democratization of AI will enhance everyone’s life in ways that we have predicted, as well as in new ways that we can’t even imagine.

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