Sales and Engineering

AI: The Next Five Years

In the third installment of our AI series, Guy Borgford, Senior Director of Business Development, and Greyson Richey, Senior Software Engineer, discuss how AI will change businesses in every industry over the next five years.

Welcome back to our third and final installment on Artificial Intelligence (AI). In our final foray into the world of machines, we’re looking at the business verticals that will be most affected by AI in the next five years. What kind of impact will AI make on your world? Will it affect your current career? Will it disrupt—or even upend—your company?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we can map the impact that computing has had on our world already, and apply what we know of AI today, to predict how AI may transform our lives. Joining me again is Greyson Richey.

GUY: Greyson, thanks again for joining me. Most people don’t know where to start when they imagine how AI will affect businesses in the next five years. There is a lot of debate as to which industries will be most impacted and how. Bernard Marr, contributor on Forbes.com, argues that healthcare, finance, and insurance are the three areas most ripe for AI disruption. What do you think about this assertion?

GREYSON:  Finance is certainly an area in which AI is going to have a major impact, considering how quickly this vertical has already adopted more simple forms of automated trading. There’s a potential for massive financial gains for any company with an AI that trades with even a slight advantage over other automated trades.

Insurance is an interesting one too, but certain parts of this industry are safe, like adjusters and agents. But AI could certainly change insurance for the better by replacing those who deal with the statistical analysis behind price determination. AI would make these tasks more efficient, which would mean a lower premium for the consumer.

In a similar but more limited capacity, there are opportunities for AI in healthcare, specifically in regard to diagnosis and analysis of the reams of health data produced in hospitals and clinics.

In each of these industries, AI is likely to produce more drastic results in positions that revolve more around math and less around service or human interaction.

GUY: Healthcare certainly is one industry that has the potential to affect almost everyone. How will this affect the business fundamentals of this massive area of our economy?

GREYSON: The biggest impacts to the healthcare industry will be in diagnosis and data analysis. It will be a while before AI can compete in terms of bedside manner or complicated surgery (or even the application of band-aids), but an AI has the potential to trounce doctors at figuring out what may be wrong with you. Imagine some obscure disease, the symptoms of which are similar to a common cold, right up until you suddenly die. Any data about symptoms or diseases fed to an AI system will be considered during the diagnosis process. AI has a better chance of diagnosing these edge cases than a doctor who’s relying on experience and human memory. Business-wise, this means leaner, better, and more consistent operations, which frees up doctors’ focus for the human side of healthcare.

GUY: What do you think companies in the healthcare industry can do today to prepare for AI and the seismic shifts that will occur in their industry by 2023?  

GREYSON: There are already moves towards tech-enabled, distributed healthcare (generally called “telemedicine”), and more motion in that direction is a sound idea. Using video chat, for example, enables a more efficient first pass at diagnosis in which the doctor’s and patient’s time and resources are optimized. Standardizing data collection and storage will also go a long way toward making the resources that AI will need to operate more accessible.

Training doctors to work in tandem with data analysts in diagnosis and health trend visualizations will help transition toward more AI-controlled processes, and will also provide a working vision for how a data-centric approach to healthcare can improve every aspect of the industry.

GUY: Proponents of AI maintain that the technology will vastly improve society as we know it. When we think about AI in the context of urban living and smart cities, which areas, such as transportation, will be fully operational in five years’ time?

GREYSON: We’re already seeing great strides toward operational gains in transportation. Look at what Waymo is doing in Phoenix, and see that other cities are following suit; it’s not unrealistic to think that many (if not most) major metropolitan areas will have fully automated “taxi” services in the next five years.

There are other sectors in which “smart cities” technology will likely progress during that time frame, such as urban farming, automated city planning, more complex AI traffic control, and AI-controlled utilities. That said, the most obvious effort (and the most money) will almost definitely be put into transforming public transportation in the near- to mid-term.

GUY: Which jobs are most likely to be negatively affected by the advances and implementation of AI by 2023? And what talents do you think will always be best done by human beings?

GREYSON: Well, there’s a lot of unfounded nay-saying around the advent of AI, and this generally revolves around a shift in labor. Most of this fear, uncertainty, and doubt overshadows that this is a shift in labor, not a destruction of it. There will most certainly be a shift away from numbers-hard employment, and the requirement for menial labor performed by human beings will shrink. That said, skilled jobs which involve a lot of variables, and jobs that require human interaction, are going to be safe for a long time (at least until powerful generalist AI is mainstream).

GUY: How do you think AI will affect the human condition, and what should we be wary of?

GREYSON: This is a great—and complex—question. First and foremost, the advent of AI has led to some interesting tests of consciousness. Think about it: Every time you check that little “I’m not a robot” box, Turing rolls over yet again, and you’ve just proven your humanity in the most hilarious way possible. The only thing that separates you, the result of millions of years of brutal Darwinism (and hundreds of early morning showers spent pondering existentialism and cereal) and the bot, written by a 12-year-old on a Commodore 64 with a 56k modem, is the ability to click a box correctly.

There are already bots that can defeat most of the first generation of captchas, and the latest wave is probably not far behind. Competitions like the Loebner prize, or one-on-one gaming tournaments between humans and bots, are calling into question whether AI can beat us at what we do best: being human. It’s often remarked (with a healthy dose of humor) that a good programmer should program themselves out of a job, but let’s make sure we don’t evolve ourselves out of a niche in our universe

GUY: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Greyson. Fascinating stuff! But before we close out, if you could bet which vertical will deliver the best return via AI, which would it be?

GREYSON: I have strong feelings about the finance sector and AI. Humans are generally bad at developing a sense of long-term trends; executing lightning-quick decisions; following the constant and varied torrent of news; and performing the complex mathematics involved in participating in a global economy. AI, when properly implemented, has a tendency to excel in practically every area that makes for success in day-trading, banking, money markets, and even angel investing. This, at least, will translate into the largest and most tangible gains for those with the power to trigger an “AI revolution”: wheelbarrows full of money.

Like what you read? Check out part 2 of our AI series.

Image courtesy of Werner du Plessis for Unsplash.

Sales and Engineering

Guy Borgford, Senior Director of Business Development, and Greyson Richey, Senior Software Engineer, collaborated to bring you this article. They’re excited to share their knowledge about and passion for Artificial Intelligence (AI) from the perspective of their respective areas of expertise.

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