Guest Column | January 7, 2020

The Future Of AI: What's Exciting, What's Scary, And What You Need to Know

By Anton Popov, Ciklum


No longer a figment of the imagination or a thing of science fiction, Artificial Intelligence will have added $15 trillion to the world’s economy, and be used by 70 percent of businesses, by the year 2030. Already a disruptor in a range of industries, AI has come to the forefront of IT, retail, insurance, financial and automotive industries, just to name a few.

In just the span of a decade, AI has created new avenues from smarter process automation to life-saving research, and believe it or not, its potential is still just beginning to be realized. Despite AI’s popularity, the technology continues to raise a few exciting ideas along with some disconcerting questions that we may not have the answers to just yet.

Here’s what’s exciting and also scaring us about the future of AI.

What’s Exciting

The Power of Machine Learning

Known as one of the most common types of artificial intelligence for business, machine learning is primarily used to process and analyze large amounts of data quickly. An essential component to helping businesses scale and further improve business operations, this type of AI learns over time and has become useful for putting extensive and large amounts of data into a digestible context for the end user, humans. 

What’s most important to understand is that ML (machine learning) solves a variety of complex business issues helping organizations predict customer behavior, which can oftentimes be quite convoluted. Aspects such as customer lifetime value prediction, predictive maintenance financial analysis, improved cybersecurity and an increase in customer satisfaction are all outcomes of utilizing the technology.

The Evolution of People and AI over the Next Decade

AI will essentially integrate into multiple aspects of life, creating new efficiencies and enhancing human capacities. However, it’s important that as a society, we are intentional about how these technologies are used and implemented. Research shows that digital life has disrupted human capacities along with centuries-old human activities. Code-derived systems have spread information, offered increased connectivity while simultaneously presenting unprecedented threats to humankind.

What’s Scary

Friend or Foe in the Workplace?

While no one knows what artificial intelligence’s impact on work will be, we can all agree on one thing: it’s disruptive and it’s shaking things up in the workplace. Early adopters of AI technology are gaining a competitive advantage as they reduce operations costs and minimize headcounts. However, the introduction of these technologies has put many at worry for potential job displacement and fear of job security. 

For some companies, this remains a positive move from a business perspective, however, it is obvious why this is a worry for those working in roles at risk of displacement. The introduction of these technologies will likely trigger an issue with unions and job security due to the substantial operational changes. 

What you need to know: AI has the ability to help companies create and leverage a more knowledge-based economy causing our ecosystem, to, in turn, add jobs that will aid in this transition. This is a component of many industries and leaders will keep their eye on as technology evolves.

Unconscious and Conscious Bias

When it comes to information, AI systems are only as reliable and sound as the information we enter into them. Not to be taken lightly, there are serious complications that can arise from incorrect data including implicit gender, racial or ideological biases. Research conducted by IBM shows  “more than 180 human biases have been defined and classified, and any one  of which can affect how we make decisions.” Unfortunately, with the massive amounts of data that have already been implemented into various systems, many AI systems will continue to be trained using bad data. However, there is the promise and potential for bias to be tamed to help make systems and automation processes as fair and no biased as possible.

What you need to know: There has to be a balance between compliance and innovation, and that’s where AI systems are truly shining. What providers and enterprise at large must hold steadfast to us is remaining transparent and ethical about where the data they are using is coming from, and most importantly, what’s being done with it.

Security Threats

Last year, businesses encountered more than 53,308 security breaches. 2,216 of them were data breaches. What’s even more startling is more than two-thirds of those crimes took six months or longer to detect. Most serious are the inherent security risks of network-enabled devices. Did you know that for every 1 million records that are affected by a data breach, companies pay on average $40 million to fix? What scares us is the mere thought that AI devices could be used to find vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure that no human could foresee. Even worse, what if AI is weaponized? 

What you need to know: When it comes to cybersecurity, threats are inevitable. Where AI can help here is by uncovering blind pots humans miss, especially if the threats posed are internal or advanced. AI has the ability to analyze, integrate and notify teams of potential or inherent security threats. Our superpower as humans is to take control of these potential risks through training, education and technological intelligence. AI is the tool that will help organizations of any size and scope minimize risk to improve security outcomes.

The future of AI is bright, as technology has the potential to revolutionize how companies grow within the market, compete with each other and change how companies engage with their employees and customers. The reason why AI is scaring us quite honestly is because it’s remained a mysterious, untouchable piece of technology until now. It’s taken businesses and organizations a decade just to get familiar with its capabilities and it will take a while before we can really leverage its potential.

Even though there are still areas of concern and problems that must be fixed, the benefits of AI greatly outweigh the concerns. Companies are still navigating what artificial intelligence looks like for their organization, which means that AI can either pose a threat or a promise to the success of their business.

About The Author

Anton Popov is AI/Deep Learning Technical Lead for Ciklum.