What even is artificial intelligence (AI)?
That is a good question. You probably have heard about it already somewhere on the news it is not something new but rather already incorporated into our lives. Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science that engages in building smart machines that can carry out tasks that typically need human intelligence. We teach a program to do things on its own. You probably are already using one of those devices, like Amazon’s Alexa or a Smartwatch. They are made to be seemingly integrated into your daily lives. But artificial intelligence can do much more than that – it can be used for algorithms on social media, search engines, or as personal assistance such as password guessers.
So let’s dive into the different advantages, disadvantages, and myths surrounding AI.
Advantages of using artificial intelligence
So how can we as humans benefit from AI? There are a lot of ways to do that. Artificial intelligence is already used in a lot of sectors, such as construction, marketing, or education. Its veins are running through our systems. It can perform tasks basically 24/7 in order to keep the process going. For example, if you need service, AI can help you out even though a human might not be around anymore. If you need help with something at 3.00 in the morning, the chatbot is ready to be of assistance. But there is, even more, it can help daily processes with. Whether they are private or business-oriented.
Artificial intelligence as digital assistance
As mentioned before, artificial intelligence can help to outsource tasks. Like the example with the chatbot that can help to answer the most frequent questions. The telecommunication company “Magenta” uses artificial intelligence to help its customers. A chatbot answers the questions of their customers, so the “human” support is not overwhelmed. Sometimes there are only simple questions and these can be handled by the chatbot. It also reduces the waiting time the customer needs for waiting. It can help with simple tasks and bridge time to human support on the other side or maybe the bot can even resolve the problem, before a human is even ready.
Repetitive Jobs can be handled by artificial intelligence
Doing the same every single day, 8 hours long can be tiring – always playing the same sound. Artificial can take over this repetitiveness and listen to this same sound all day because it has no ears. For us humans these tasks can be boring and when an intelligent machine is taking over for us, we can focus on more creative tasks. But it is also very fast and good at multitasking several things. Different products can be worked on and be shipped faster. Additionally, they can take more risks and even perform dangerous tasks.
Artificial intelligence reduces errors
We all know the phrase “I am just human”. Humans have flaws and mistakes can happen. AI can be trained to reduce these mistakes. It can learn from past errors and avoid them. Of course, artificial intelligence is not perfect, but given enough data to learn from, it is trained to specifically do or not do certain things. It can be practical that the machine is doing just as we say, but this can also be a problem. Sometimes it requires human intelligence, as we are more flexible in thinking and we can adapt to situations much quicker than artificial intelligence.
Disadvantages of using artificial intelligence
Of course, even bright, shiny things cast shadows. Even though artificial intelligence helps us in daily tasks, takes workload from us, and performs non-stop. However, implementing AI is not as simple as it sounds. It can be quite costly and if not used properly can cause chaos and even security risks.
Artificial intelligence turns us lazy
When online shopping we do not need to find the products, they find us. Standing in a real-life store, you probably have said to yourself before: “Nevermind, I will order it online.” We don’t need to wait at the check-out or “waste” our time going through every aisle just to find a can of beans. We are able to turn our TV or lights on just with our voices – we could spend the rest of our lives sitting on our couch.
But this laziness makes us rely on artificial intelligence a lot. Not just at home, but also in our business lives. For example, when working in marketing, you rely on smart algorithms to present the content to the right people by using advertising or hashtags. Also in the medical field, doctors are relying on machines for diagnoses, and sometimes they are wrong. Patients have been misdiagnosed because doctors did not come to a verdict themselves. This can cause the treatment to take longer, increase the medical bills. Or in the worst-case scenario can even lead to death.
Will artificial intelligence replace humans?
It sounds as if it were straight out of a horror movie. But it is not like they will overthrow us and control the world, they rather steal jobs from us. As mentioned before, it can take on repetitive jobs or function as digital assistance. So instead of 20 people working in the support center, there are only 10. Companies can perform tasks faster and operate 24/7 with artificial intelligence. Additionally, they lack emotions and are not able to build up a relationship with the customer. We are still far from being overthrown by robots, but they are already taking on some work, which could be done by humans.
Artificial intelligence is not cheap
Replacing a process with artificial intelligence is not something done in a matter of minutes. It requires planning, maybe restructuring certain things – it needs a strategy on its own. Artificial intelligence needs hardware and software to even function. Setting up a system can therefore be quite costly. Additionally, it needs to be updated and maintained regularly to work properly and to reduce security risks. A custom artificial intelligence solution can cost anything between 60.000-300.000 thousand dollars and the sky is the limit. There are already cheaper solutions that small businesses can use, such as spam filters, chatbots, or security software based on AI. Some of the things are pretty standard nowadays, such as the spam filter, however, it is also important to know how AI works in order to incorporate it properly. The COVID situation forced a lot of people to go into homeoffice, which forced businesses to incorporate more technology into their work process. Some companies don’t have the money for someone to take care of it and suddenly they need to become pros themselves.
Myths around artificial intelligence
After talking about the advantages and disadvantages surrounding artificial intelligence, let’s tackle the myths. There are many ideas and movies floating around revolving around artificial intelligence. One day it will overthrow humankind and rule over the world. It is one of the many myths that artificial intelligence will turn evil. But in reality, it will probably just turn competent and their goals might misalign with ours. That does not make it necessarily evil. For now, they just do what we teach them, they can only mimic what we show them. They cannot learn on their own, we have to teach them what they need to know – they need data prepared by experts. So if an AI ever turns evil, it is because the humans behind it decided to use it for evil purposes. So, artificial intelligence can never be 100% objective because the humans behind it aren’t.
A machine cannot have a conscious mind, but its goals can misalign with ours and that is why we could feel threatened. Not because they are going to overthrow humanity one day. Of course, the more intelligent a being is, the more control it can gain. The same could happen with artificial intelligence, however, this does not mean that it turns into the Terminator and is attacking us. Artificial intelligence is like alcohol: Something to enjoy, but with caution. It is important to know what is happening behind the scenes and always keeping advantages and disadvantages in mind. Having a strategy on how to implement artificial intelligence can also help to avoid risks.