Artificial intelligence: opportunities, fears and the way forward

The world is on the cusp of an AI revolution that will involve every aspect of our daily lives.

 (photo credit: SNATCHBOT)
(photo credit: SNATCHBOT)
Being a leader in technology, Israel has positioned itself to be in the driving seat through choice and perseverance. But there are nations and segments of people in different parts of the world who see nothing but threats in the things we seek to turn into opportunities. I believe that by having empathy with these different views and sharing enough insight to allay such fears, we can create more confidence in the future.
The opportunities in AI explained:
Given the vast areas of potential application for AI, it is hard to focus on even just a handful of the main benefits. But in summary: due to IOT connections and interactions, the massive level of personalization will mean that we can all use a combination of devices in our daily lives and experience personal benefits that are unique to our own needs. Then, as big data assists with everything, the ability to predict the future and eliminate costly, outdated research methods will save so much time and effort. As we add deep learning to this, the interpretation of data enables better automation, which again means we save more time. Putting this in practice: we have seen in our own industry, which is that of sophisticated chatbots that rely on AI, how humans can be relieved of time-consuming tasks that and tasks that were not intellectually interesting.
In the transport industry, we can see how autonomous vehicles reduce the number of accidents, eliminate dead-end jobs that humans find quite stressful (if you look at how many taxi drivers suffer with heart attacks and stress, would you not argue that AI is a lifesaver indeed?). Supply chains and conventional telematics are also improving substantially, serving the end-user better than before.
In the areas of CRM and customer service, we have the data to show how improvements are made on an ongoing basis: using AI and chatbots as a gatekeeper alongside conventional management, there are clear reductions in service time and errors, allowing for relationships to be nurtured, better training for staff and help in countering major problems in fraud and tax related problems where governments implement these systems. We may of course continue the list. There is decision-making at various levels, guided by data. Then, intrusion detection, HR and staff retention, marketing automation and so much more.
Now with all these benefits already proven in cases of full adoption and pilot cases, it may seem peculiar that we still encounter resistance to change and an envy of those who worked really hard to demonstrate leadership in this field, which leads to an inability to compete by those who fail to adopt. Well, it is not that peculiar if one considers why: it is fear based. Thus, it is worth considering what others fear before we can look into alleviation of this through better partnership. As I explained in an interview with a Chatbot magazine, adoption rates will be so high, that businesses will find it hard to avoid participation.

What people fear about AI:
Resistance to change is a very human tendency. Add to this that we have to accept that worldwide, the average worker sees a salary as their means to an end. They will therefore do everything to protect the source of their salaries. Given the low wage growth in many parts of the world, it is hardly fair if we expect folks to see the bigger picture: how can they, if they have to be so preoccupied with their own survival? So instead of realizing that a different configuration in local economies and the tax code can actually provide more resources for retraining and a re-orientation towards modern careers that are more in line with the world we will live in tomorrow, there is a sense of panic. This panic is largely concerning the idea that “What if I lose my job due to artificial intelligence and what if I cannot find a new job and have to be without revenue?”

The advent of Linkedin targeted advertising, for example, saw thousands of conventional sales positions being closed as companies tried out this targeted way of advertising as opposed to manual sales and prospecting. Now, taxi drivers and truck drivers can see the same happening once autonomous transport becomes the norm. Countries like France and Greece are still trying to fight new innovative taxi booking solutions, whereas in reality, the world is already at the NEXT phase, which is no longer how we book these services, but how the service is actually delivered by autonomous driving. But we can go on: IT support technicians and financial advisors both face the same issue: ROBO advisors are working alongside humans to deliver spectacular results. Even copywriters in advertising agencies now see dynamic, programmatic copywriting rolled out to compete with a highly respected conventional trade.  All of this now requires that the human operators up their game. There are off course other fears too: as I discussed recently, AI and chatbots are also used in military technology around the world: so people fear, what will happen if our systems are hacked or turn against us?

Why it is worth allaying our fears and see even adoption globally:
Firstly, I would argue that to ensure that the benefits of AI are realised evenly and that it is used for our own good, without rogue elements, worldwide integration and a regulatory framework will be required sooner rather than later. But how can countries participate in the creation of such a framework if they have little exposure to AI?
Secondly, we can already see a two-speed Europe and multi-speed world where innovation is implemented at various levels. Entire countries and workforces are at risk of becoming uncompetitive. This means that those who adopt technology faster, gain various advantages, beyond a mere cost advantage.
In every innovative industry, we face resistance to change. Instead of asking “how can it be that people do not get these very obvious benefits?”, it may be more beneficial to understand why they fear it. Then, to understand how we can better serve them with an explanation of what the world can be like if we go along with change and prepare for a better future. In Israel, this is a task faced by many forward-thinking entrepreneurs, which therefore means that we are positioned to offer a facilitative approach as part of our corporate culture.
This article was written in cooperation with Avi Ben Ezra.