The Hype and Reality of AI

By:  |  Category: Blog, Cloud Tuesday, July 10th, 2018  |  No Comments

Everyone is talking about the implications of AI (Artificial Intelligence). How will it impact the workplace? What are the ethics of dehumanizing critical decisions  and the possible downside of cybercriminals using it against us. Is AI positive or negative, or does it fall somewhere in between?

MIT Sloan’s Erik Brynjolfsson jumped into the conversation with a paper that suggests a more moderate outlook of the topic than the extreme black and white predictions that dominate the news.

Brynjolfsson’s paper asserts that whole jobs are unlikely to be replaced with a robot or software application, rather a much more likely scenario is that specific tasks will be replaced instead, although Brynjolfsson does acknowledge that some jobs are likely to have more of their tasks automated than others.

“Our findings suggest that a shift is needed in the debate about the effects of AI: away from the common focus on full automation of entire jobs and pervasive occupational replacement toward the redesign of jobs and reengineering of business practices,” the authors say.

Clearly jobs will change, but humans will still have a place.

The Reality of AI right now

Currently, the state of AI is way more hype than reality. While AI interest is high, the ability to execute is low.

According to Information week, “The current state of AI technology adoption reflects its early stage. IT infrastructure is the biggest barrier, despite the popularity of cloud shown in Interop ITX State of Cloud reports.”

Simply put, most companies don’t have the money (or the talent) to rebuild their infrastructure to accommodate AI at this time.

Brynjolfsson argues that many of the more outrageous predictions for AI are built upon false assumptions of the technology.

Many assume that AI is readily available to take over and automate just about everything. The reality is this technology is still in development.
The applications of AI today are in very narrow domains. Yes, these narrow applications are game changers and will have an impact upon the world. Technologies like image and speech recognition, natural language processing and predictive analytics are changing healthcare and research.

Looking at a more realistic view of AI today, the researchers examined the kind of tasks AI can and cannot do. They developed a 23-question rubric to ascertain whether a task is a good fit for current AI capabilities.

“Any manager could take this rubric, and if they’re thinking of applying machine learning [to a task] this rubric should give them some guidance,” the researchers say. “There are many, many tasks that are suitable for machine learning, and most companies have really just scratched the surface.”

What Tasks can be Automated?

The team juxtaposed their findings with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to understand the kind of tasks that typically make up a job. What they found was that most jobs have many tasks associated with it. While AI could perform some of these tasks there are many it cannot. For example, radiologists are a prime example where technology can benefit. There are many AI applications that are extremely efficient at rapidly and accurately diagnosing various conditions based upon medical scan images. These applications are faster and more accurate than the natural ability of human radiologists. While some predict their career demise, it is highly unlikely radiologists are going anywhere. There are 26 distinct tasks associated with being a radiologist (and hundreds of small ones), and while analyzing medical images is well suited to AI, interpersonal skills are currently not. No one wants to hear they have a tumor from a computer.

“In almost every occupation, there are at least some tasks that could be affected, but there are also many tasks in every occupation that won’t. That said, some occupations do have relatively more tasks that are likely to be affected by machine learning,” Brynjolfsson says.

“This is likely to result in a much better matching of skills with job requirements, with machine learning being used for tasks that it is inherently well suited to, and this then freeing up humans to do the things that we are inherently well suited to.”

Brynjolfsson’s research helps us to have a reasonable expectation of the impact of AI and a more positive response to the changes it will inevitably bring.

If you need assistance upgrading your technology infrastructure give EnhancedTECH a call at 714-970-9330 or contact us at [email protected]

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