Are we entering the future that we envisioned in old science fiction movies? Artificial intelligence is no longer humanity’s wild dream, but rather almost a new reality. Robots have made their way to most industries, and algorithms assess our financial credibility and health with far greater precision than any human would. AI’s on everybody’s minds: whether they see it as an opportunity or a threat, it’s so prominent that they can’t ignore it. It is the new revolution in the making and as every social, financial, and technical reconstruction, it will have its winners and losers. AI is likely to dramatically reduce the number of people involved in manufacturing processes, but it is also predicted to create countless brand-new jobs requiring technological prowess and creative thinking. What’s the future of the world run by Artificial Intelligence and what will be our place in it? Only time will tell, but whatever happens, one thing is clear: the era of new technologies has just begun.

The era of AI is here

When Stanford professor John McCarthy first coined the name of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ in 1956, it remained not much more than a subject of science fiction books. Now AI has become a part of our daily routines, helping us to navigate the world with digital voice assistants whose number was already estimated at 3.25 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to outnumber the world’s population by 2023. Artificial Intelligence’s potential is undeniable: the industry noted a 154% growth on the global market just in 2019, and its future is shaping up to be extremely promising.  

The global artificial intelligence software market brought around 10 billion U.S dollars of revenue in 2018 and it is expected to generate 126 billion by 2025. Such a rapid pace of expansion suggests that Artificial Intelligence is about to revolutionise the way we work, communicate, and live. The possibilities to use AI are endless: from transportation and customer service to financial assistance and healthcare support. Companies have already started using AI to better address their clients’ needs, detect fraud, streamline supply chains, cut customer service costs, and draw complex insights from data sets. However, it isn’t just the private sector that explores opportunities provided by AI: cities use AI software to effectively address urban problems such as traffic and pollution. 

We might have just begun the era of AI, but it is already playing an important role in automating and optimizing working processes across several industries. In a survey created by The Economist  (and sponsored by Microsoft) for their report on Intelligent Economies, one in four respondents claimed that their organizations have already started integrating new technologies into their work processes and services. No more than 6% said that their companies were not interested in adopting AI into their companies’ structures. The most frequently mentioned uses of AI include image analysis, virtual assistants, predictive analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing.  In fact, Bank of America introduced their virtual assistant, Erika, in 2018 to help their clients schedule payments or look at transaction history just with a voice command. In general, banks all around the world started to use virtual assistants to answer people’s frequently asked questions and allow actual humans to handle more complex cases. 

In the world of finances, AI is also gaining prominence as a fraud detection tool, preventing identity theft. Certain financial institutions are also starting to use AI in evaluating people’s financial credibility and automating bank account opening processes. Artificial Intelligence’s input in improving efficiency across all the industries is already immense, but the true potential of AI is yet to be fully tested. The healthcare industry is planning to incorporate new technologies into the diagnosis process of certain diseases and administrative procedures, so doctors are able to deal with complex medical cases. AI is, therefore, not likely to replace health professionals, but rather free them from administrative tasks. Experts predict that AI’s role in healthcare will largely consist of risk management and analytics to help doctors make the best decision for their patients based on the available data. The public sector, on the other hand, is eager to use machine learning to understand patterns behind urban crime, pollution, and traffic and create safer, cleaner cities of the future. 

The possibilities to use AI are so vast that every industry can choose whatever fits their needs best. Manufacturers are hopeful about the use of robots which are becoming cheaper as years go by. The emergence of cobots (‘Collaborative robots’) is great news for the manufacturing business. Unlike traditional robots, cobots can safely work with human employees and are able to execute a wide range of tasks. Perhaps, in a few years, the manufacturers will base their entire production on robot force. As the price of industrial robots is predicted to drop by 65% by 2025, Wall-E might become our office colleague sooner than we think. 

Read also: AI in business: What are the benefits of artificial intelligence?

What the future of AI will bring

Will Artificial Intelligence revolutionise our economy within the next few years? Juergen, chief executive officer of Siemens UK, thinks so, stating that AI “promises nothing less than a fourth industrial revolution”. In fact, by 2030, the global GDP is predicted to note a 14% increase thanks to the use of AI, which translates to an additional 15.7 trillion US dollars in the global economy. What is expected to cause such a massive economic expansion? The number 1 reason is the boost of global productivity with AI executing mundane, administrative tasks, so the human workforce can handle more complicated matters. On the other side of the coin, the AI’s future might light bright for some, but it paints a truly gloomy picture for others. Automotive and telecom industries are set to fire a huge number of employees within the next 3 years, so AI will leave certain people jobless. On the bright side, numerous new jobs will be created within the high tech industry. Paradoxically, such a shift in the workforce’s proportions may be a threat to an already disproportionately distributed world’s wealth.  Businesses all around the world are afraid of the financial costs of adopting AI and execution risk that may follow: they might not have enough resources or qualified employees to actually make use of AI’s potential. Although the fear is universal and not linked with the geographical location, it is clear that developing countries may not be able to invest in AI enough to compete with giant economies, and so they may be in the losing position before the AI race even truly begins. For all we know, such an economic unbalance may continue for the next decades, creating possibilities for some, while destroying the future for others.

AI in numbers

All in all, Artificial Intelligence is more than a future trend to watch — it’s the future. We are entering the age of the technological revolution that will redefine the way we work, live, and communicate. Our work structures, the notion of productivity, and even our healthcare systems are bound to change, and if we play our cards right and adapt to the changing conditions, we will thrive. For better or worse, fates of many countries may be determined by their willingness to embrace the new, because regardless of one’s opinion on AI, its rise to global dominance is inevitable. Let the AI games begin! 

Author: Paweł Sobotkowski
Digital Transformation & Marketing & AI Consultant, Author, Speaker, Investor. An experienced consultant who worked on many projects globally. Always keen to network with new businesses and individualities, a real linking-dots person. Ran and invested in several companies as well as advised many SMEs on the growth and expansion strategies. As an investor-sympathiser of diversified investments, he’s built strong relations & ecosystems with businesses, universities, NGOs, stakeholders, and investors. Ambitious conferences and meet-up organiser, presenter, and speaker. Worked in Life Science, AI, Gaming, Media, Blockchain, FinTech, DeepTech areas.