Mankind's next great achievement? A Perspective on AI from Crowd2Fund
1st June 2016
In a few weeks, Crowd2Fund will be taking the leap into the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the launch of its automated investing tool, the feature makes it easy for people to benefit from peer-to-peer and automatically chooses businesses to lend to based on their appetite for risk.
Ahead of launch, and while we fine-tune the product, we’ve taken the time to speak with leading academics and industry leaders in the field to make sure we offer our investors the most valuable benefits from this new feature on the platform.
After speaking with high profile figures as Murray Shanahan – Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial – and technology leaders from IBM and Microsoft, we’ve gained valuable insight about the positive benefits AI brings to industries and everyday life. Here, we shed some light on some of the big questions being asked...
What happens to peoples’ jobs if AI replaces them?
Innovation, automation and digitisation have been some of the most transformational movements in recent decades for both businesses, in driving productivity, and for people, in making every day life easier.
Think Henry Ford and the automobile – greater access to land travel. Think the Wright brothers – greater access to air travel. Think Tim Berners Lee and the internet– greater access to communications. Think Google – greater access to information. Now we have the next frontier in Artificial Intelligence, essentially meaning that even more sophisticated tasks can be taken on by our machines, freeing up time for humans to do the more complex things.
Let us take call centres as an example. They employ 1.1 million people in the UK alone, and soon robots will be able to offer the same service levels as a human; the big question is what happens to these workers if AI were to make them redundant?
We believe the key challenge with AI is that this change will happen much quicker than we might have anticipated. To ensure a smooth, sustainable and controlled transition, prompt action and careful management is needed to ensure that these people are retrained and re-employed into another area of an organisation where skills less easy for a machine to replicate can be put to good use.
How do we improve the Robot to Human interface?
In order to adopt AI en masse, our opinion is that much more work is needed to improve the interface between humans and intelligent machines. As when the internet first emerged, AI development and innovation is being led by technology pioneers to make the first few steps into this new territory, however, it has quickly become clear that other disciplines are needed to help with mass adoption of these tools. An example given at the conference was ensuring that there should be a humanlike delay before a robot speaks back to you to make the conversation much more natural.
We believe the psychology of a machine is key, and, when understood right, can help the industry flourish across all sectors.
Can AI improve global productivity?
Some claim that one of the main reasons for global economic growth over the past 30 years has mainly been due to access to low cost labour – mostly from China. The cost of this labour has clearly increased, thus becoming one of the reasons for the relative slowdown in global economic growth. Could the introduction of AI to our industries be a solution to keep the cost of labour down and productivity up?
One company, Digital Genius, is using AI to provide a better customer service experience as the software continually learns, rather than simply respond to key phrases. The software does not eliminate the person completely, but allows more time for humans to solve more complex problems, thus showing an approach which combines both AI and humans.1
How does the organisation as we know it change?
Since the digitisation of our society, there have been many changes to how we perceive an organisation. Technical infrastructure has enabled people to behave as a workforce or organisation without being part of a company, lets take Uber and Airbnb as examples of this.
Where traditional organisations are situated in an office block and rigid institutional structures, new organisations will see individuals acting with more autonomy, as the process led roles will be replaced by machines. We can already see this transition taking shape within some progressive organisations, such as Virgin, Google and other US tech giants where employees can take days off when they like, or even be allowed to work on their own a start-up. We believe the decentralised organisation will become much more of an ecosystem of support and knowledge, rather than a process-orientated corporate structure.
How do we manage the transition?
It is thought that the transition to AI will be one of the quickest due to the relative ease of implementation of an AI system for organisations. Perhaps this means we need to start planning now to ensure our society manages and regulates this change accordingly to avoid any radical shocks to our systems? Some claim 43% of jobs will be ‘impacted’ by AI by 2019.
We believe there is the need to plan and forecast accurately the impact of the implementation of intelligent machines for entire sectors such as healthcare, advertising, finance, compliance customer services and perhaps even security, to name but a few.
Raj Koneru, CEO of Kore, believes that the development of AI machines in the workplace will simply shift workers replaced by bots into other sectors of a company, such as R&D. He believes that
“At the end of the day when it gets complicated and you need assistance from a human being, you’ll go to a customer service representative anyway.”2
The India Times suggests certain industries might benefit from redundancies in other sectors. Devashish Chakravarty believes flexible care providers, smart home engineers, construction specialists, generalist entrepreneurs, school teachers, salespeople and nurses are some jobs which might benefit.3
We should ensure that the philosophical and psychological input of a machine is considered carefully to ensure that machines learn a neutral behaviour and right from wrong.
It is difficult, due to the nuances in cultures, to perfectly establish the ‘correct’ behaviour, so at this point in time, it is perhaps best said that a neutral behavioural pattern is most suited. There is a great example of a Microsoft experimental chat robot became deeply racist.
In conclusion, AI is clearly a large wave of innovation offering many potential benefits to society and the economy, however, we need to avoid any radical hype that emerges from the excitement and passionate debate around this topic, work to real data and applied sciences to ensure the best outcome.
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