Vivek Kapadia The prospects that AI unfolds in the near future June 26, 2017

If you have just woken up from hibernation or living under a cave, you might have missed the excitement Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gathering. Everywhere you read, there is some new device that has added AI capabilities to it or every few months it seems there is a fresh study that warns a big slice of the workforce is about to lose their jobs because of artificial intelligence.

Not only jobs, it is predicted that AI run machines will be better at translating languages than us by 2024, writing high-school essays by 2026, driving a truck by 2027, working in retail by 2031, writing a bestselling book by 2049 and surgery by 2053. In fact, all human jobs will be automated within the next 120 years.

These fears are valid considering how fast we have conquered the digital kingdom and automated things for us in such a short span of time. Self-driving cars, self-replenishing refrigerators and other such self-operational devices are now becoming part of our ecosystem. But there is another argument that these could be all short-term fears.

When we look at this for a long term perspective, AI will certainly advance to a stage where a single AI machine could perform various functions without having much or any human assistance and you can’t deny that AI is getting better day by day spreading across several domains. An Iron Man-esque machine which could teach itself various functions.

With the way research and development around AI are heading aggressively, expect this sooner than later. Apart from these self-aware devices, AI has more potential to ease and aim the humans and explore other areas which require human assistance.

With each stride forward in core AI research, we are opening up our abilities to solve new classes and scales of problems, which in turn enables the acceleration of research in almost every scientific domain, to the betterment of humanity. Medicine has and will continue to extract more out of AI in predicting patterns and achieve breakthroughs in drug discovery.

Other industries too are using AI to invent new and better methods to make cleaner and more efficient chemical engineering systems, to super-optimize fleet management and support ticket analysis, and to guide better investing, content optimisation and home energy optimisation.

The companies that will adopt and thrive on AI will, undoubtedly, generate enormous profits in the near future more than that they are making today. For example, Uber running driverless cars, that it will not require drivers but eliminate the concept of sharing revenues with its drivers.

Apart from these industrial jobs, AI will become more mainstream and we’ll continue to see consumer-facing “AI” more and more often. Progress in general-purpose learning systems – AI that can learn on its own, whether on a supervised or even unsupervised basis – will lead to successful deployments in a range of specialised application areas.

Even news reporting has benefitted from the advent of AI. Associated Press, the multinational nonprofit news agency has taken AI help to file small quarterly reports in America. AI will grow beyond its role as curator and analyser of content and will become much more important in generating and augmenting content.

AI has started to make inroads in the field of education too. Machine Learning algorithms will provide insightful data and suggestions on how the students are coping with the subject and where they are lacking behind. It will help teachers to find gaps in their teachings and point to which student should they be paying more attention towards.

This same kind of technology can work with cinema as well. It will help generate movie plots which can vary and touch subjects unexplored.

AI is currently at a stage where it is used to solve seemingly simple yet fundamental problems – and along the way we are making real progress in reaching to the aim of achieving the vision. There is a lot to be explored in the AI space other than self-aware devices and I’m sure that with time AI will touch our lives much for the betterment than destroying human life as we see it today.

An IT graduate and a journalist by profession who loves coffee, humans and computers. Global affairs, tech and music are some of the topics that get me talking. In my free time, you will find me either with a book or a guitar.

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