BusinessDay

How artificial intelligence (AI) affects business executives

As of this writing, AI has not fully taken over jobs just yet. Business leaders must comprehend the influence of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning and natural language processing on their company.

As society grapples with how technology is transforming the way we work and live, artificial intelligence dominates the news.

According to MIT Sloan professor and head of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, Thomas W. Malone, both the excitement and the anxiety surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) have been overdone to an extreme degree.

Businesses must have a realistic knowledge of artificial intelligence and the promise of robots, machine learning, and natural language processing in order to succeed. People around the world are becoming more interested in artificial intelligence, according to the 2021 AI Index survey. There has been a huge increase in AI research, investments in AI firms, college courses on AI, and occupations that demand deep learning skills.

According to Malone, who teaches a popular executive education course on artificial intelligence and corporate strategy, “many senior executives and business leaders today are virtually frantic to understand how AI may effect their firms”. It is becoming increasingly common for business leaders to worry that they would be left behind if they do not master the usage of artificial intelligence. It focuses on the history of AI and dispelling myths about what it can do for companies.

Additionally, Malone stated that the course aims to provide business leaders with a degree of AI awareness that falls between between a superficial knowledge of buzzwords and the technical know-how of coders. He likened it to being familiar with the mechanics of an automobile. What to do when you have a flat tyre or run out of petrol does not necessitate knowledge of how to fix an automobile.

When it comes to the basics of AI, business leaders need to understand how a computer can recognise stop signs, pedestrians, and cars in images.

“That kind of awareness is quite useful in thinking about how to utilise artificial intelligence in business,” he said. “The only way to learn how to effectively apply it in the business world if you don’t already know how to perform magic is to speak with a professional magician. Some examples of unreasonable requests that could result if you do not have enough knowledge.”

Furthermore, Malone emphasised that it is vital to realise the truth behind some of AI’s promises a glimpse behind the magic curtain, to use Malone’s term.

Read also: Your subconscious is the ultimate ‘artificial intelligence’

Where does artificial intelligence technology stand now?
This does not mean that intelligent machines are always capable of doing simple tasks, though.

In warehouses, digital voice assistants, and banking credit risk evaluation software, intelligent systems are already in use around the world. As Malone points out, these tools possess specialised intelligence and are capable of executing just a limited set of tasks. In contrast to humans, AI has not yet reached the point of general intelligence.

Malone uses IBM Watson, a software that has been known to overcome the top human players in Jeopardy. Malone said, “You think, wow, that machine must be extremely smart.” When it came to Jeopardy, [the version of the programme] that beat the greatest players could not even play Tic Tac Toe, let alone chess.

Like all AI, Watson’s Jeopardy-winning version is very specialised; in this case, it is specialised in the task of playing the game itself.

“Just because a computer programme can do something that would be difficult for humans to do doesn’t mean that the same programme can do all the other things that would be easy for humans to do,” Malone said. “Many of those other things are simply not possible for it to achieve. For the most part, businesses already employing AI are using it to perform specialised jobs rather than to solve broad problems.”

Machine learning is now here, but human intelligence is still a long way off (at least many decades).

When it comes to artificial intelligence, Malone said it is still decades away from being human-level, the kind that can move parcels or win at Jeopardy, and that humans have misjudged its arrival for decades.

Today, most people believe that human-level AI is roughly 20 years away. It has not altered since the 1950s, however, as he explains in his commentary. Human-level artificial intelligence, it was thought, would be developed in roughly 20 years. To put it another way: It has been 60 years since Malone has seen it in person.

“I think we should be very sceptical of anyone who confidently says that we will have human-level AI in the next few of decades,” he said.

There have been notable advancements in several areas of artificial intelligence, though.

Professor Malone, who teaches an executive education course on machine learning, says that of all the aspects of artificial intelligence, machine learning is arguably the most crucial to study right now.

“Machine learning has advanced rapidly in the last few years and is now the basis for some of the most spectacular AI applications we have,” he said. When you use an app like Google Translate or an app that transcribes your voicemail, machine learning is used. Face recognition, self-driving cars, and sophisticated credit risk analysis all depend on it.”

Artificial intelligence is sure to alter jobs, but it is not going to eliminate them all
Malone claims that artificial intelligence elicits significant human emotions. For many people, fear of losing their work to robots is a major reason for concern. In fact, it was this fear that spurred MIT to begin a multiyear Future of Work project, which showed that while technology would have a significant impact on the way people work, inequality and job loss are not unavoidable results.

There will be job losses due to automation, but history shows that there are as many employment gains due to new technology.

Humans and machines will operate together in the future, according to Malone’s “Superminds” theory. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to create new professions that require humans, or individuals will simply prefer to have someone else complete their current tasks (like judges, artists, and football players).

There is no reason to ignore the plight of those who lose their jobs and have no way of obtaining new ones in the interim, he said. To paraphrase: “I think that is very different from the apocalyptic scenarios many people are afraid about: widespread unemployment for a large part of population.” While technically feasible, I doubt it.”

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