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The Transformative Power of Artificial Intelligence

From machine learning algorithms to generative AI tools like Midjourney and of course ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a concept from science fiction – it is fast becoming an integral part of our daily lives. 

The growing influence of AI on society is undeniable, with its impact reaching virtually every aspect of human existence. It’s little exaggeration to say that AI represents the biggest leap forward for society since the invention of the steam engine kick-started the Industrial Revolution.

However, revolution by its nature is unpredictable and entails a variety of challenges. While the changing of the status quo offers incredible benefits, it also means entering a period of uncertainty and instability as we all adapt to the new normal. 

The coming of the AI revolution will impact nearly every aspect of our economy and culture, but the most important question is will this impact improve our lives or worsen them? That’s what this article aims to find out by breaking down the most important benefits and challenges of AI.

What is AI?

AI or artificial intelligence are a series of technologies that seek to simulate the way humans think and solve problems through learning, reasoning, and self-correcting. This can take the shape of machine learning algorithms that are able to refine their processes over time by “learning from their mistakes” the same way people can, to generative AI tools that utilize deep learning networks that scan thousands of pieces of art and writing to produce images and text nearly indistinguishable from that of human creators. 

Artificial intelligence is a highly diverse, burgeoning field and these are just a few examples of the tools that are possible using this technology. With the speed of iteration achievable through AI, these technologies will evolve greatly in a short time. Five years from now, we’ll look at today’s offerings the way teenagers look at the first iPhone.

The Benefits of AI in Society

From business, to transportation, to education, AI will have an incredible impact on the way we live, learn, and work. Here are just some of the ways tools born from artificial intelligence will refine various aspects of our lives.

Economic Growth

The adoption of AI has the potential to boost economies by creating new efficiencies in a variety of sectors and fueling innovation and entrepreneurship. Already Google is incorporating its AI technologies into its core suite of products, such as Google Analytics, and Microsoft has incorporated ChatGPT directly into the results of its rival Bing search engine. 

AI will also spur the growth of entirely new businesses and industries as more and more potential of the technology is unlocked. Quite simply, the sky is the limit when it comes to the impact of AI on the economy.

Safer and Smarter Transportation

AI’s ability to make decisions and refine data on the fly has the potential to enhance safety in a variety of ways. For instance, by making smarter and more dynamic autonomous vehicles that won’t cut you off in traffic or fall asleep at the wheel. Automated air traffic control systems can make airports more efficient and minimize the risk of human error in critical systems, while machine learning tools can optimize train and bus schedules to make public transportation a more appealing option for commuters.

Personalized Learning and Creativity

Incorporating AI in the classroom can improve educational outcomes by creating tools that adapt to each student’s learning style and optimal pace. Instead of being left behind, struggling students can get more personalized attention while high achievers will have more avenues to expand their horizons. Instead of rote memorization, students raised on AI can instead refine their logic and problem-solving skills to be more adaptable than any generation before them.

Generative art and text tools can also unlock new avenues for creativity for those who thought their artistic ambitions were out of reach. Amateur artists can create their ideal pictures in a handful of prompts while professional artists can use it to refine their work, such as by changing the background of an image they drew themselves or experimenting with different strokes and colours.

Enhanced Personalization and Targeting

AI-powered chatbots enable personalized experiences across various industries, such as providing authoritative technical support or booking flights and hotels quickly and cheaply. Additionally, the integration of AI into traditional search engines like Google not only makes the results more streamlined and authoritative, but can also give you bespoke answers to any question you could ask. For advertisers, machine learning has already made media bidding easier and more cost-effective as the algorithm continually iterates to drive CPC for the best keywords for your business.

The Challenges of AI in Society

Because the decision-making processes of AI systems aim to mimic human patterns, this can raise a variety of ethical questions around biased algorithms. For instance, could the same AI tools that facilitate safer and more efficient autonomous vehicles also be used to deploy autonomous weapon systems that can choose targets without human input? 

Striking this balance between technological advancement and the ethical considerations thereof is a significant challenge, which makes it important for us to consider the challenges AI represents alongside its benefits.

Job Displacement and Inequality

Much like the impact of automation on industrial manufacturing on blue collar labour, AI tools will make a variety of white collar jobs redundant, particularly roles that involve repetitive tasks. Even creative roles such as art production or content writing that were previously thought safe from automation are at risk of being replaced by generative AI tools. 

However, while certain jobs and industries may not survive the AI revolution, in the long run new opportunities will arise as companies evaluate the needs of their workforce in the new, AI-driven economy. 

Regardless, the benefits of AI will not be evenly distributed and governments face a very real challenge if their social safety nets are not able to blunt the impact of AI-driven unemployment until the economy can stabilize. Some utopians believe that AI-driven growth will result in new policies like a Universal Basic Income that will free people to focus on art and personal development – but quite frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Privacy Concerns

The massive amount of data AI systems process raises concerns about data privacy and security – namely, how are AI training sets accessing data and what permissions should they require? As seen with the EU’s GDPR legislation, data privacy is at the forefront of consumers’ and policy-makers’ minds. See also the revolt against cookies and current data collection methods that presents a major disruption for digital advertisers as Google and other tech giants revise their policies.

Legal Ownership of AI-Generated Content

AI art generators such as Midjourney are trained on millions of images available on the internet, the majority of which are copyrighted and acquired without the consent of the rights-holders. Already there have been cases of generated images containing watermarks from stock image databases or signatures from existing artists.

Do the images and videos created from this copyrighted content count as entirely new work? Or do they violate the original owner’s intellectual property? This very fight is occurring in courtrooms across the world, and the resulting legal precedents are going to have a significant impact on how AI tools are used and trained into the future.

Environmental Cost

AI generators require a large number of servers to run, which in turn draw on intense amounts of energy. According to some researchers, the power required to run ChatGPT equals 1 Gigawatt-hour per day, or  the equivalent of energy usage for 33,000 U.S. households. In the long run, as the use of AI increases, so will its power requirements and associated environmental impact.

Security Risks

The proliferation of AI introduces new security risks, including the potential for AI-powered cyberattacks, deep fakes, and the misuse of AI technology for harmful purposes. As I’m sure you know, most cyber security breaches rely on phishing schemes and other acts of subterfuge that target people or workers who aren’t tech-savvy. 

Imagine a chatbot that can generate personalized phishing emails or text-to-speech engines that can take a recording of a CEO’s speech and allow a scammer to mimic their voice to cold-call employees and you can see how easily commercially-available AI tools can be used to create vulnerabilities in data security.  

Are you curious about how you can incorporate AI to improve your business’ efficiency and productivity? Yoush can connect you with a variety of experts working in the AI field who can help you unlock the potential of this futuristic technology today. Contact us today for a consultation.