Over the last decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has been integrated into every aspect of society and our lives. From chatbots and virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to automated industrial machinery and self-driving cars, its impact is hard to ignore.
Today, the technology most commonly used to achieve artificial intelligence is machine learning – advanced software algorithms designed to perform a specific task, such as answering questions, translating languages or navigating a journey – and are getting better at it as they are exposed to more and more data.
Globally, government and business spending on AI technology will exceed $500 billion by 2023, according to research from IDC. But how will it be used and what impact will it have? Here, I outline what I believe will be the most important trends surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in business and society over the next 12 months.
The continuing democratization of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence will only achieve its full potential if it is available to everyone and every company and organization can benefit. Fortunately in 2023, this will be easier than ever. An ever-increasing number of applications are putting AI functionality at the fingertips of anyone, regardless of their technical skill level. This can be as simple as predictive text suggestions that reduce the amount of typing needed to search or write emails to applications that allow us to create sophisticated visualizations and reports with the click of a mouse.
If there isn’t an app that does what you need, then it’s increasingly simple to build your own, even if you don’t know how to code, thanks to the growing number of no- and low-code platforms. These enable almost anyone to create, test and deploy AI-powered solutions using simple drag-and-drop or wizard-based interfaces. Examples include SwayAI, which is used to develop enterprise AI applications, and Akkio, which can build predictive and decision-making tools.
Ultimately, the democratization of AI will enable businesses and organizations to overcome the challenges posed by the AI skills gap created by a lack of skilled and qualified data scientists and AI software engineers. By empowering anyone to become armchair data scientists and engineers, the power and utility of artificial intelligence will become possible for all of us.
If you ask most people what they think artificial intelligence is useful for, they’ll probably tell you it’s mostly for automating everyday, repetitive tasks. While this is often true, a growing branch of science is dedicated to building AI tools and applications that can mimic one of the most uniquely human of all skill sets—creativity.
Artificial intelligence generation algorithms take existing data – video, images or sounds, or even computer code – and use it to create entirely new content that has never existed in the non-digital world.
One of the best-known genetic AI models is GPT-3, developed by OpenAI, which is capable of generating text and prose that is almost indistinguishable from what humans create. A variant of GPT-3 known as DALL-E is used to create images.
The technology has gained mainstream exposure thanks to experiments like Tom Cruise’s famous fake videos and the Metaphysic act, which crushed America’s Got Talent this year. But in 2023, we will see it increasingly used to create synthetic data that can be used by businesses for all purposes. Synthetic audio and video data can eliminate the need for filming and speaking on video – just type what you want the audience to see and hear into your creation tools and AI creates it for you!
Ethical and explainable artificial intelligence
The development of more ethical and explainable AI models is necessary for several reasons. Most pressing, however, is trust. AI requires data to learn, and often that means personal data. For many of the potentially most useful and powerful AI use cases, this can be very sensitive data, such as health information or financial information. If we, the general public, don’t trust AI or understand how it makes decisions, we simply won’t feel safe handing over our information and the whole thing falls apart.
In 2023, efforts will be made to overcome the “black box” problem of artificial intelligence. Those responsible for deploying AI systems will work harder to ensure they are able to explain how decisions are made and what information was used to arrive at them. The role of AI ethics will also become increasingly important as organizations grapple with removing bias and unfairness from their automated decision-making systems. Biased data has been shown to lead to bias in automated results that can lead to discrimination and unfair treatment – something that simply will not be acceptable in a world where artificial intelligence plays a role in employment and access to justice decisions or healthcare.
In 2023, more of us will find ourselves working alongside robots and intelligent machines designed specifically to help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. This could come in the form of smart headsets that give us instant access to data and analytics capabilities – as we’ve seen increasingly used in retail as well as industrial workplaces. It could mean augmented reality (AR) headsets that overlay digital information on the world around us. In the case of maintenance or construction use, this could give us real-time information that can help us identify hazards and risks to our own safety – such as indicating when a cable is likely to be live or a component may be warm. Management and leadership teams will increasingly have access to real-time dashboards and reports, providing an immediate overview of operational effectiveness. Artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants will also become more prevalent in the workplace, able to quickly answer questions as well as automatically suggest alternative, more efficient methods for achieving goals. Overall, developing the ability to work with and alongside smart, intelligent machines will become an increasingly necessary job skill. I would even go so far as to say that for many of us, it will go a long way in mitigating the risks of finding our roles becoming redundant!
Sustainable artificial intelligence
In 2023 all companies will be under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize their impact on the environment. In this regard, the race to adopt and profit from artificial intelligence can be both a blessing and a hindrance. AI algorithms – and all the infrastructure needed to support and deliver them, such as cloud networks and edge devices – require increasing amounts of energy and resources. A 2019 study found that training a deep learning model can result in the emission of 284,000 kg of CO2. At the same time, the technology has the potential to help companies understand how to build products, services and infrastructure in a more energy-efficient way by identifying sources of waste and inefficiency. Continued efforts to implement more green and renewable energy infrastructure are also part of the drive to deliver more sustainable AI.
AI can be a driver of sustainability in other industries and business sectors too – for example, computer vision is being used in conjunction with satellite imagery to detect deforestation and illegal logging activity in rainforests, as well as illegal fishing activity, which affects biodiversity in the oceans. This year, I expect to see a continued push towards the development of AI initiatives aimed at tackling some of the most pressing problems facing our planet – rather than just the pursuit of increased corporate profits.
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