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Is Artificial Intelligence a Bonus or a Threat to Modern Industries?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is the process of making machines operate more like humans. Simply put, consciousness, ethics and empathy are emotions not inherent to machines.

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Machines can make predetermined decisions, but higher-level learning is required for them to emulate human decision processes. It’s even been proposed to put computer chips in human brains to emulate the process.

For example, to save money, lights at a company office can be programmed to turn on at 8 a.m. and turn off at 6 p.m. on weekdays. But what happens if some employees work on the weekend or a repair person enters the premises after hours? If left to a machine, the decision to turn on the lights outside the pre-programmed hours would not happen even when humans were present.

Is AI Friend or Foe?

Artificial intelligence has been a staple in computer programming for over 40 years. It provides beacons of light when it comes to automation and self-service by enhancing productivity, convenience, and security.

But human capital is often the price for such advanced automation. Accenture reports that “78 percent of consumer goods executives surveyed recognize AI’s potential to disrupt the status quo of business/consumer interaction. Sixty-eight percent of industry executives believe AI will have a significant impact on the industry over the next three years.”

So should the emergence of new technologies be perceived as a threat to modern industries?

AI Is Prevalent in Several Industries

New technologies have taken many forms in today’s industries. Here are four examples:

  • ATMs — Automated bank tellers have revolutionized the banking industry. Banking institutions used an automated device to handle common transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, bank inquiries, and account transfers. In addition, providing a machine that could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week increased the productivity and speed of transactions. As a result, automating teller processes decreased the need for human tellers.
  • Automated checkout — Groceries and department stores have utilized artificial intelligence technology to create an automated checkout. For example, Amazon Go is an AI-powered grocery with no cashiers and checkout lines, which means a faster way to obtain food and consumables.
  • No ticket travel — The airline industry now makes it possible to book a flight online and load the boarding pass into a personal device without human intervention. Ticketless air travel has greatly diminished the need for travel agents, as travelers can schedule their itinerary using an automated scheduling system.
  • Automated vehicles — FleetOwner writer Sean Kilcarr states that people are the most important resource in the trucking industry. Vehicle accidents caused more than 36,560 fatalities in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. By contrast, driverless vehicles have been successful in inter-state travel, in congested traffic, and in rural areas where lanes, curbs, and lighting are sporadic.

What Will Artificial Intelligence Affect in Future Human Interactions?

So if new artificial intelligence technologies have the capability of replacing humans, are we eliminating a crucial component of industry? The current trend is that humans will be needed to help infuse AI into automated transactions, but in different ways.

While the number of traditional job positions will continue to decrease, there is still a need for humans to incorporate AI into automated transactions to help machines think more like humans. For example, computer programmers are in high demand in the AI industry.

In addition, hardware mechanics are needed to maintain automated devices. So while the number of tellers, check-out clerks, and travel agents will decrease, the number of computer programmers, technical operators, and information system analysts will increase.

AI therefore bridges a gap by allowing machines to emulate human processes via computer software programs that enable human decision making. With artificial intelligence, computers can use sensory data to make decisions in real time, which emulates human thought.

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, CLTD, PMP, is a professor in the School of Business and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in project management and supply chain management. A global speaker and STEM advocate, she obtained a B.S. in Meteorology and an M.S. in Meteorology and Water Resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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