Artificial Intelligence: Is it a positive or negative for business?


Oti Ikomi Data Analytics

"AI is not just coming, it is here, and it's going to change the world" - Samantha Starmer at AI & Machine Learning World for TechXLR8

While still in the early days, the impact of artificial intelligence on the business world is already incredibly evident. Artificial intelligence is disrupting many industries for the better and these changes have already come into play.

We have seen companies make AI a part of their wider data analytics strategy, with early adopters like Airbus and Disney. For example, Airbus Defense and Space used Google Cloud Machine Learning to automate the process of detecting and correcting satellite images that contain imperfections such as the presence of cloud formations.  Disney collaborates with Google’s cloud vision API machine learning by taking "Pete's Dragon" to the theatre’s in 3D to promote the film. They both created "Dragon Spotting," a digital experience that uses Google Cloud Vision API to bring the magic of "Pete's Dragon" to life.

The future with AI is flourishing now, with investment significantly increasing over the past year, from under $200m annually in 2010 to over $1800m in 2016. However, is this for the better?

Time and time again the question of whether artificial intelligence is a positive or negative for business is raised. The short answer…depends on how you look at it. After attending the London Tech Week’s TechXLR8 event, AI & Machine Learning, all signs are pointing towards a positive effect on business as a result of artificial intelligence.

AI helps to automate digital processes for businesses and therefore lower labour costs for businesses. This automation process can remove the mundane tasks in the workplace and allow people to take on new roles. In turn, this can improve customer experience and support services. For example, in recent years the use of chatbots has significantly grown for businesses online and these chatbots have already helped to reduce costs and improve overall customer satisfaction as these virtual agents help to reduce customer wait time.

While many are afraid that this automation process will reduce the jobs available for people, they do not take into account all of the jobs that will be created as a result of AI, many of which do not exist today. However, as there are currently not enough specialists, this has amounted to a skill shortage in the sector that needs to be filled. As the next generation, it is essential for us to learn more about AI and get involved as it is the way of the future.

“AI is the new electricity…humans and machines can work together, better.” - AI & Machine Learning World for TechXLR8.

Furthermore, AI provides tremendous opportunities for particular industries and business sectors. The use of AI in healthcare has opened a world of potential for projects such as the Cochran Protect and Inner Eye Project. Another pioneering company that is leading the way in AI is IBM’s Watson. Since Watson became commercially available, the technology has been applied to everything from cancer research, where Watson is used to sorting through and deciphering millions of medical journals, to retail, where Watson is being used to help shoppers locate exactly what they’re shopping for or similar items. As of 2017, Watson is already available to more than 400 million people and patients. 

These new and evolving technologies can provide incredible breakthroughs in these industries that are beneficial for humankind.

“What’s great about AI is it’s not relevant to just one industry, it’s relevant to everyone. Now we’re on the narrow [use of] AI for specific verticals or solutions, but we are working towards general AI. It will be exciting to see how that evolves.” - Yuval Dvir, Head of EMEA Online Partnerships, Google

In addition, the growing area of image recognition in AI has provided businesses with practical and user-friendly technology to support the everyday administration of a business. For example, AI can improve the health and safety aspects of a business through automated cameras that recognise issues that may impact on the safety of staff (such as an oil spill) and alert workers to the problem and the area where the issue is.

Whether you’re for or against artificial intelligence, it’s the way of the future and you need to start embracing it now or your business will be left behind in a world of new and innovative technology. All in all, the future doesn’t have to look bleak, think about the possibilities – it’s exciting!