Being human in the age of AI

By IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub in Artificial Intelligence (AI), IBM

Will AI take over the world? Or, more to the point, will it take over the humankind? It seems to have invaded the public consciousness, sparking concerns that AI will take away jobs. This fear is driven in part by companies using AI to deliver cost savings across their businesses, including areas related to labor.

But AI is much more than that. PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution predicts that by 2030, AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy—with 42 percent of that produced from increased productivity and 58 percent from consumer purchasing behavior. This future economic power cannot be realized without human intelligence. It’s part of a structural shift that involves changing the way we view AI.

Going on offense for the use of AI

For many of its formative years, AI has been used by businesses as a mechanism for defense—protecting the bottom line. Data science and AI platforms can eliminate data silos, enable greater analytics productivity and introduce central management and efficiency. Yes, these gains increase ROI and lower total cost of ownership (TCO), but it can take up to two years to see their impact.

Today, AI has matured into a building block for revenue generation and business breakthroughs. For example, a car company can use it to improve product design to appeal to more customers. And it can increase sales by targeting dealers with more precise location and temporal segmentation. Or a bank can use AI to improve the customer experience by reducing transaction time, and as a result, reduce customer churn and increase profits and productivity.

Both AI offense—yielding increased profits—and AI defense—yielding lower costs—are how leaders are winning the game. If you want to find out just how much AI can impact your business, you can try this data science and AI business value assessment tool. After you get a sense of the potential that AI can bring to your business, it’s time to make it happen. This means creating the experiences that can grow revenue or even reimagining brand new business models.

Process is back to take the center stage

For AI to generate substantive business results, you need a modern environment for building the apps that can change human behaviors with a simple touch. You can modernize your business with containerized, microservice-based applications optimized by data science and AI to offer customer experiences and promote sales. You don’t have to do the heavy lifting to modernize legacy systems, either. You can bring algorithms to data sets, even if they’re on the mainframe. There are many ways to expose these apps for humans to optimize operations with AI. Check out this webinar on AI and Data Science: Future of work with human and machine intelligence to learn more.

Of course generating revenue from AI involves more than building apps. It’s also about rethinking process. Process was a hot topic of interest for a while, but then it got buried in an avalanche of other technology advancements. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argued that algorithmically-derived models are automating processes that constantly improve themselves without human touch. An integrated development environment with prescriptive analytics and asolution rooted in scalable decision optimization can evaluate millions of possibilities—from balancing trade-offs and business constraints to finding the best possible solutions for optimizing and reimagining your processes. In essence, businesses that can simplify processes and build new pathways with infusion of relevant intelligence are in the driver’s seat for realizing the higher business returns.

Is all of this talk of automation making you wonder where the human element fits in all this?

More human than human

Gartner predicted that, “by 2025, 50 percent of data scientist activities will be automated by AI, easing the acute talent shortage.” So, what does that mean for data scientists, or for other humans for that matter? A great deal actually. While AI has automated activities and processes once handled by people, this transition will not render human intelligence obsolete. In fact, AutoAI—automated AI development—can help businesses and humans reach their full potential.

So how will this work? In the case of AutoAI, it scales and democratizes AI and data science development. Those who are new to data science can start experimenting with their data sets. But, by removing routine and time-consuming tasks, expert data scientists are free to address the more interesting and innovative aspects of their field. I describe these in detail in my blog: How automating AI empowers humans to master business innovation. This is why we’ve seen many expert data scientists who are coders and understand the mathematical functions get excited about using AutoAI to shrink the cycle of model and other kinds of analytics development.

Freeing data scientists from the mundane is just one aspect of the power of combining human intelligence with AI. Today’s AI systems are sadly lacking in some key areas. A recent New York Times article states that AI systems “need to understand time, space and causality. Right now, they don’t.” The article is full of examples of things that AI can’t do. In those cases, human intelligence is a requisite for success. We can do the time-telling, and the understanding of function based on form, such as recognizing when a photo is doctored. If you combine the things that AI can build with the best that the human mind can do, it’s possible to reach heights you’ve never considered before.

Being human means great potential for all

If you aspire to explore being part of harnessing the power of AI and learn how to blend the best of human and machine intelligence, this is a great time to do so. You can change the course of business—even history. For example, if you are an aspiring data scientist or analyst, you can use a tool like AutoAI to rapidly get up to speed, gain invaluable insights, and increase knowledge. Or you can start a new business with apps that make customer experiences better, faster—and more fun.

There is so much to learn, so many interesting problems to solve, and great uncovered opportunities to discover. You can upskill and reskill for AI to change your career and business trajectory.

Get started on your AI journey by taking the AI business value assessment. If you’re ready to learn how to accelerate your journey to AI, join us in Miami at the Data and AI Forum.