Dr. Muneer Muhamed hails the myriad prospects of artificial intelligence

AI is transforming every facet of human life and we really don’t know how far it will go despite sci-fi authors trying to frighten us. While there have been calls to regulate the AI sector, governments have done little about it. However, this tech should be deployed to offer its obvious benefits to society.

It may not be apparent in Sri Lanka but globally, every industry is witnessing an upswing from its use. For instance, over half the marketing heads in developed economies confirm the use of  artificial intelligence in some form or the other; and an additional 25 percent plan to use it in the next two years.

As more enterprises embrace AI, it will transform the way we work.

Early adopters are embracing this disruptive technology and many employees in those companies wonder whether they’ll have their jobs in the near future. Are their fears misplaced or will these disruptive AI forces relieve you of your job security?

This advanced technology may not make anyone redundant yet, for AI is not as sophisticated as the human mind in managing both intelligence and emotional quotients (IQ and EQ).

As the technology evolves in the next few years, it’ll need the support of the human brain and that’s an opportunity for employees to stay relevant. Many routine jobs will disappear but new opportunities will emerge, as employment (as we know it today) will undergo an exciting transformation.

If you’re worried about coping in the AI era, here are a few thoughts to help you embrace it better. First, welcome it with open arms. Evaluating its potential uses in your immediate work area is the next step. Automating repetitive jobs and analysing vast data will be easier with AI. Building and curating content on millions of pages of e-commerce sites will become simpler. It will be especially proficient at deriving perspicacity on employees and consumers, and in workflow optimisation.

By eliminating routine tasks, you can focus more on higher level work such as strategy related or priority projects requiring multilevel involvement. The survival mantra is to map your expertise with the strengths of AI and understand its limitations to improve your relevance.

AI driven data analytics help decision makers in management, politics and government to know their target audience better. Big data sorting and deriving insights with predictive patterns will be a key in winning competitive wars and election battles that humans would have otherwise missed. The data output you receive needs to be translated for use by others and that requires a human interface. This is another opportunity for workers to retain their jobs and coexist with AI.

As with all technological developments, high tech cannot survive without ‘high touch.’ No AI initiative will fructify without human inputs. For your career therefore, lifelong learning is a must unlike what people used to think of it – i.e. as being applicable only to the medical profession.

Predictably, AI will evolve much faster in the next five years than it has in the last five and the ability to constantly adapt to tech changes will keep you relevant in the immediate future.

No AI related tech can simulate unparalleled human creativity. If an enterprise wants to create loyal customers who will continue to buy more, it will need more than simply great products.

Customers desire unique buying experiences. This cannot be created without knowing what they’re experiencing today and how those expectations will change tomorrow. Enterprises must be totally customer centric and AI tools can hone this focus with knowledgeable employees. By using AI to handle routine tasks, employees can indulge more in creative pursuits and innovate to deliver better customer experiences.

Enterprises improve their customer interactions and sales when artificial intelligence is integrated seamlessly into customer interfaces. As the technology drives customer expectations higher, enterprises will demand more from employees to deliver even better experiences.

You can use AI to gain social insights and deliver segment specific messages across omni-channels. Yet, the real connection with customers cannot happen without emotions.

If you map the patient journey in the healthcare system where AI is making phenomenal advances, you’d find that it lacks the ability to understand the emotional context of a patient from a regional or cultural perspective. A combination of sophisticated analytical skills and EQ empowers you to leverage AI in ways that weren’t possible before.

There’s no need to fear AI if you develop the skills to derive better social and economic value. As leading European AI experts demand, governments should regulate it now before privacy abuses crop up.

The caveat is that experts such as Tesla’s Andrej Karpathy talk of neural networks (or deep learning) as a new type of software. So will a trend towards ‘teachable machines’ change the way we work and interact with others?