Have you ever noticed that most conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) are dominated by hype – both fantastic and terrible? Elon Musk summed it up well when he famously announced that “AI will be the best or worst thing ever for humanity”.
We’re all familiar with narratives around how AI is threatening jobs and how super intelligence is a danger to humanity. In spite of this, there’s little evidence that either predictions are imminent. The majority of scientific estimates point to AI creating more jobs than it will displace. And what we call “AI” – big data and machine learning – is not actually intelligent, but essentially looks for patterns in data, generating predictions, not explanations. This is a stark contrast to the story-telling nature of human brains, and the prospect of AI becoming self aware is far from sight.
Could AI be the best thing ever for humanity as Elon Musk (half) predicted? To draw the most out of AI, we need to recognise its strengths and shortcomings. AI is powerful, but also limited. It’s expensive and difficult to adopt, especially for small businesses, which don’t have the masses of data and powerful computers that machine learning relies on. When it comes to larger enterprises, it takes time to move away from legacy systems and embrace new technologies. Although these facts don’t lessen AI’s potential, they are slowing its adoption.
Between the media-driven panic and utopian statements from tech evangelists, AI technologies can improve parts of our everyday lives on a more tangible level. Modern AI techniques power search engines, voice assistants and the algorithms identifying unwelcome posts on social media. Every business has aspects that can be automated and from chatbots that answer customer queries to automated email replies, data entry and speech recognition tools that transcribe text – rather than replacing skilled workers, AI capabilities can help businesses become more efficient. At Recii, we’ve developed a technology that automates the initial steps of the recruitment process. Our conversational AI recruitment assistant is helping businesses engage, interact with and qualify talent – and at scale.
Despite all the hype, AI is unlikely to cause a utopian or apocalyptic future. But it does have the ability to improve aspects of our lives. Viewing AI with a lens that’s neither fantastic nor terrible will help us acknowledge its true capabilities and reap more of its many benefits.