The Social Impact of AI

How does the proliferation of AI affect our future?

Societal challenges and the role of AI

Today, doing the right thing for society, for the environment, or for human rights still seems like a rare occurrence in the business world. When it does happen, the companies engaging in good deeds often do so in the name of their own notoriety or prosperity. These times are-a-changing, however, and that’s a good thing. Here’s why.

The consumers of tomorrow care about doing the right thing; therefore, they care about working for and buying from organizations who share similar ideals. Thanks to this sweeping trend, going forward, successful technology companies will aim to enact positive impact as their mission or raison d’etre, rather than just as an afterthought. End consumers in both B2C and B2B environments are choosing to support and do business with organizations, which are contributing towards the future they want, and they are developing a knack for sniffing out those who are merely doing it as a publicity stunt.

AI as a reflection of the world’s complexity

As we become more reliant on technology to process and make sense of the copious amounts of data we are generating throughout almost all our daily activities, our world becomes more complex, and the other way around, too. Thus, it’s not necessarily the growth of AI that’s increasing complexity – rather it’s a two-way process.

Societies are already facing the global challenge of inventing and proliferating technologies that benefit humanity and the planet instead of negatively impacting it. In addition, the more technologically advanced we become, the more we seem to sacrifice in terms of our basic rights of privacy and freedom of access to information. Reconciliating these two seemingly conflicting priorities is within the goal of new legislation like GDPR and ePrivacy in the EU and the Data Protection Bill in the United States.      

AI-powered robots will surely take over our jobs, right?

The answer to the wide-spread fear of having humans replaced by robots at work is that it is going to happen, though, only to a certain extent. The surging capabilities of robots and artificial intelligence will see a range of current jobs superseded. Low-skill workers will need to relocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization, or risk layoffs.

Professional roles such as doctors, lawyers and accountants could also be partially supplanted by artificial intelligence by 2025. For the most part, it’s going to be the tedious, labour-intensive tasks associated with certain professions that we’ll be able to outsource to machines, leaving humans with more time for the essence of these jobs. When it comes to making calls about a patient’s life or a high-profile court case, we’re far from the point when we’d be able to reliably entrust machine intelligence with such decisions.

Making AI work for us

One of the advantages of AI-capable machines is that, in addition to threatening jobs, they can also help us process the terabytes of information we generate, which the human brain could simply never manage.  This is already producing ground-breaking discoveries in areas vital to humanity, including synthetic biology and nanotechnology – in a nutshell, the definition of progress.

When robots do take over the dangerous, time-consuming, and tedious tasks that humans shouldn’t be doing over a lifetime anyways, we should embrace the change and move on to new, more interesting projects that require the skillful application of inimitable human qualities like ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s an opportunity for many of us to change careers, retrain, or acquire new skills – what about this is not to like?

Copywriter: Ina Danova

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