Back in July, an artificial intelligence (AI) system at Facebook created its own language. More specifically, the system created a language that was indecipherable to humans since English was found to be “inefficient” by the agents within the system.
For the lay person, the key point is that the AI system literally created something that the Facebook scientists and engineers could not understand. The questions around machines becoming too intelligent and determining humans are “inefficient” and unnecessary only increase when such incidents happen.
Webster defines AI as the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. For decades, computers have been able to perform incredible calculations, connect opposite corners of the globe and solve incredibly complex problems; however, until the advent of AI, we had to tell computers what to do.
The concept of learning how to do things more efficiently and effectively is a recent phenomenon that has major benefits in many fields. The drawback is that if machines learn on their own, could they disintermediate their owners and…perhaps take over the world?
Before I turn this article into a science-fiction teaser, let me turn the focus over to the world of business. There is a real effect from the advances in AI. It is truly a disruptive technology in that many industries are being overhauled. For example, in the world of finance, AI has turned the world on its head. The idea of human tellers being replaced by ATMs is 20th century.
Now, AI algorithms cleanse big data sets, perform underwriting for loans, determine the optimal investment portfolios for wealth management clients and detect potentially fraudulent activity on your debit card. Tasks that once required programmers to write very specific, involved code can now be setup using AI in a way to tell machines how to learn about fraud to anticipate criminal activity before you even know what is happening.
Disruptive innovations usually mean opportunity, and AI is no exception. While the technology is advanced and there is some educational barrier to entry, there is plenty of opportunity for everyone in AI. Of course, development is not the only way to play in this emerging world.
Understanding the business and market trends is critical as well. More specifically, business leaders that win are asking themselves how to best utilize artificial intelligence to support business and end customers in ways unheard of before.
Just like the advent of the internet toward the end of the 20th century, AI will impact the entire spectrum of the customer-business relationship. This includes predictive data analytics, targeted marketing, enhanced delivery, speedier payment processing and collections and continuous improvement in the overall customer experience.
Entrepreneurs should take special note. In 2016, more than 550 startups using AI as a core part of their products raised $5 billion in venture capital funding. If an entrepreneur can answer that key question – how can an intelligent machine learn and make supporting customers and businesses better? – there is plenty of opportunity.
Of course, someday artificial intelligence may very well allow machines to take over the world. But the prevalence and development of AI probably will not allow that to happen in the foreseeable future.
While the questions around those risks from AI need to be asked, for now, we should feel safe exploring how AI can continue to make our lives better and the opportunities in the world of business.
At least until the machines take over Silicon Valley.
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An economic conservative till the end, Hughey strongly believes in the power of self-empowerment as the solution to many of society's problems. He is a business consultant for a management advisory firm in the Washington DC area and a contributor to Project 21, a black conservative organization. He also appears on television as a political and policy commentator on TVOne and RT. A graduate of Stanford Univeristy and Harvard Business School, Hughey believes that education and economic awareness are the keys to empower Americans to take back our nation.