While “Artificial Intelligence” might seem like a shiny new tech trend, the term was first coined at Dartmouth College in the 1950s. However, it’s only in the last few years that we finally have the computing power and access to large amounts of data that we’re seeing applications of AI that are changing the world around us.
For starters, look no further than the smartphone in your pocket to witness machine learning (a form of AI). When your mobile device does automatic email classification, prompts you to use a voice assistant, and gives you the ability to use facial recognition for photo classification, you’re benefitting from AI advancements. In fact, in a recent Deloitte survey, they found that “65 percent of smartphone owners across 16 developed markets have used an application featuring machine learning.”
What’s especially interesting about the AI market is how quickly it’s taking off. Over the next five years, every industry will be impacted by this technological shift. While there will be plenty of opportunities, there will also be many business challenges.
To understand both, here is how AI will change the way we live, work, and play by 2025.
The Future of Work
Many people are worried about robots taking our jobs, but the bots are coming first – especially if you’re in the business of providing any type of customer service.
If you’re not familiar with a chat bot, it’s a tool that automates digital interactions. Today, we’re seeing this technology on websites and on social platforms, such as Facebook Messenger. You ask a chat bot a question and the chat bot searches through data to find the most likely answer (no human required). This is helpful for retailers that are often bogged down with common questions from customers such as store hours, return policies, and other generic information.
According to research group Gartner, “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.” This will lead to an estimated $8B in business savings by 2022, but it will also lead to jobs lost (e.g. call centres). Beyond chat bots, automation is becoming a more common reality in warehouses where robots are starting to do the heavy lifting.
The Future of Homes
In 2018, AI is having the biggest impact at home. If you received Google Home or Amazon Alexa for Christmas, you’re already taking part in this voice-enabled change. Wired explains why these devices are critical to the future of connected houses: “It will be your central command module, the device you talk to when you need to get stuff done.”
Beyond just answering questions and playing music, voice assistants are interacting with other smart products to help us better manage the temperature (e.g. Nest thermostat), control the lighting (e.g. Philips Hue lightbulbs), and keep us safe (e.g. Scout alarm system). This year in Canada, Nielsen reported that 46 per cent of Canadians intended to buy smart-home devices. Once we get comfortable with this technology, we’ll start to demand these products in every room to add high-tech convenience to our lives.
The Future of Transportation
As the World Economic Forum shares, “Elon Musk has promised to have Tesla vehicles with level 5 autonomy within the next two years. Toyota is planning to have self-driving vehicles available in 2020.” In most countries, governments are racing to figure out how to regulate these vehicles. The insurance world is hustling to try to determine what role they’ll play in the future of driverless cars (in other words, they’re debating who will be responsible in the event of an accident – among other questions).
Canada is lagging when it comes to the global autonomous vehicle race, but we’re working hard to catch up. According to The National Post, late last year, “the provincial government opened a new testing centre in Stratford, as part of its $80-million autonomous vehicle innovation network, where researchers and companies can test their technology in a range of real-life scenarios.”
As we quickly launch into an AI-enabled future, today’s business owners must stay on top of these dramatic changes. Historically, when it comes to new technology, consumers adapt quickly while companies struggle with the same adoption pace. To sum up what to expect in the artificial intelligence explosions we’re about to experience, consider this current quote from journalist Graeme Wood, “Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.”