Artificial intelligence feels like a technology ripped from the pages of a science fiction novel — because it more or less is. Long before computer and data scientists were developing AI-driven applications, artists and writers were dreaming of machines that could think, talk and feel just like us. Samuel Butler’s 1872 novel “Erewhon” is largely credited with being the first description of machines with human-like intelligence, though there are plenty of myths from ancient civilizations that involve the same concept: a man-made object with intelligence, even sentience.
Yet, the details of AI’s past are not nearly as fascinating as the potential for AI’s future. Here are a few facts from AI experts about where the technology is likely headed in the coming years.
AI Will Provide Cost Savings, Not Revenues
Many executives pursue AI solutions in the mistaken belief that artificial intelligence will radically increase their company’s revenues. Cutting-edge technology can be appealing to some consumers, who may want to support brands they deem to be digitally advanced. What’s more, AI seems like a solution that can help organizations identify more effective product development and marketing strategies to drive revenues higher.
However, the truth is that the revenue benefits of AI have been holding steady for years now and cost savings of AI have increased incredibly. According to McKinsey, since the first year of the pandemic, all AI functions have seen massive growth in the savings they can provide organizations. In many ways, savings is just as good as revenues, and executives should appreciate the extra budget available to them as a result of implementing AI.
Investment in AI Will Skyrocket
AI was first developed in the 1950s, but because of low investment in tech, AI has been relatively slow to evolve — until now. Because more practical AI solutions are finally available to organizations of every size and scope, businesses are pouring money into AI developers. Between 2020 and 2021, global corporate investment in AI rose from $67.85 billion to $93.5 billion, and experts anticipate private investment in AI research to exceed $500 billion by 2024.
Investment in AI is important for the future of tech. With sufficient financial support, AI researchers and developers can integrate new features and functionality that make AI even more effective at its assigned tasks. What’s more, such a dramatic rise in interest and investment could result in AI breakthroughs, such as the development of artificial general intelligence that matches the capabilities of the human mind.
AI Will Become Critical in Healthcare
While many industries can make use of AI tools, healthcare is poised to see the biggest benefit from artificial intelligence. Dozens of healthcare-related applications for AI have been suggested, including:
Improving diagnosis. By aggregating information about patient histories, symptoms, test results and more, AI tools can better predict and identify serious diseases, allowing doctors to intervene sooner.
Developing treatments. Using the power of simulations, AI systems can rapidly identify potential pharmaceuticals as well as other effective treatment plans for specific patients.
Protecting patients. AI cybersecurity tools can better defend healthcare institutions against cyberattacks which can threaten the privacy of patient information.
Facilitating care. Chatbots, intelligent scheduling and other administrative AI tools can make healthcare more accessible to a larger number of patients.
The current healthcare system is in poor condition. Healthcare administrators might consider enrolling in artificial intelligence online courses to understand how AI might improve their operations now and into the future.
AI Ethics Will Make Headlines
At present, AI tools are hardly more advanced than traditional computer applications, but as AI is given greater responsibility, the tech could become ethically concerning. Already, ethicists and policymakers across business, tech and legal industries have brought up concerns regarding how AI could be causing real harm to real people.
For example, AI requires an abundance of data to decipher patterns and determine optimal courses of action; can the average consumer choose not to allow their data to be used in this manner? What’s more, some AI tools have become inaccurate in their analysis due to biases in their operators or in the data they are fed, with the result that the AIs discriminate against certain groups in their proposed actions. These issues and others will likely become major news stories as AI becomes a more prominent tool in sensitive industries.
Perhaps even more interesting — and frightening, for some — is the prospect of sentient AI. The more intellectual and emotional capability AI gains, the closer it could come to true consciousness, which means the human race will need to grant a greater degree of moral consideration to how we utilize AI tools.
There is little doubt that AI will be a formidable force in shaping the future of humanity. How executives think about and implement AI systems and tools today could impact what AI does for the world tomorrow.