I am a firm believer in the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in transforming industries. Businesses that we helped build their AI strategy last year now reap the rewards of adopting AI in the form of higher productivity and savings.
But while the benefits of AI technology are apparent to people who openly embrace it, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to new tech.
What I’ve noticed with a lot of Philippine businesses is that there’s a general hesitation when it comes to adopting new technologies. Some people think that AI is expensive and only an option for the tech elite, while others believe what they see in the movies and have the notion that AI-fueled robots will one day take their jobs and rule the world.
Well, as someone who’s worked extensively on AI technologies, I can tell you that most of these hesitations are unfounded. Dig a little deeper into the realm of AI, and you’ll find that there’s a world of possibilities behind each fear.
MYTH #1: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL TAKE YOUR JOB
This is one of the biggest fears involving AI, and I’ll admit, it’s a scary thought. The idea of systems or machines beating you at a game of chess — your own game! — is sure to pluck some nerves. But just like AI, the fear of machines taking over your job someday is nothing new.
In the 19th Century, a group of textile workers smashed a newly developed weaving machine because they felt it rendered their skills obsolete. But did the weaving machine spell the end for textile workers? Mmm. No.
Industrial revolutions in the past have instilled this fear of human obsoletion into us, but let’s not forget that AI and humans are essentially good at different things. Where computers are good at carrying out mathematical functions and are able to make basic decisions, humans are excellent at making strategic, intuitive, and empathetic decisions. So while Artificial Intelligence may take some of your tasks and responsibilities, they can’t take your job. In fact, the adoption of AI opens up new, more strategic and less repetitive or dangerous jobs for humans. A study by Gartner predicted that 1.8M jobs are expected to be lost to AI by 2020. But the same study also predicts that 2.3M new jobs will be created.
After all, someone’s got to train and integrate AI into the system.
MYTH #2: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS A PLUG-AND-PLAY SORT OF SOLUTION
Another misconception with Artificial Intelligence is that it’s a plug-and-play solution — or something that businesses just need to integrate into their systems once and that’s that. Bring on productivity! But with AI, it’s quite the opposite.
Think of AI systems like a 2-year old. It’s still young and bright-eyed with no idea about what it’s supposed to do for your business. It needs to be guided and managed. That’s where the humans come in.
In order to steer AI in the right direction and get the desired outcome from it, humans and AI need to work together in a harmonious environment. Artificial Intelligence will take on all the mundane, repetitive tasks, while humans will make decisions and ensure that everything is running smoothly. Through these decisions, AI will slowly learn and imitate certain behaviors, which will allow them to make small decisions on their own in the future.
MYTH #3: IT’S EXPENSIVE
While there is some truth to this, it’s not the whole truth. Yes, a fully customized and integrated AI system is going to cost you a lot of money. But there are many smaller, more cost-effective ways to integrate AI into your business. A virtual conversational agent, for example, is a simple option.
Virtual agents are pre-built artificial intelligence solutions that can take care of some of your customer support responsibilities — they can reply to comments, answer messages, and redirect users to live chats for questions they can’t answer. This can help take some time out of your employees so they can focus on something else, like their next digital business strategy.
MYTH #4: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS OUT OF OUR REACH
Myth #3 is founded on Myth #4, which is that AI is a far-off, unreachable solution that’s reserved for the biggest tech companies with the deepest pockets. When we think of Artificial Intelligence, we tend to associate it with concepts like machine learning, robots, and data science or other more complicated topics like deep learning, which requires an equally deep learning curve to understand.
When we think of AI, we also tend to let our imaginations get the best of us, and envision dystopian futures like in Wall-E, Blade Runner, or Her.
When we get right down to it, AI is NOT your competition, your plug-and-play solution, or a work of science fiction. It’s a practical tool that can be used by businesses to obtain a competitive advantage, capture new markets, and drive innovation all the while offering increased productivity at lower costs.
The sooner Filipino business leaders open up their doors to explore AI, the easier it will be for them to adapt and see the results new technology has for themselves.