Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Begin to Transform the Digital Society

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Begin to Transform the Digital Society

Artificial intelligence and its sub-technologies are in fashion this year in all industrial sectors, from telecommunications operators to hospitals and the automotive industry, passing through analytical marketing and human resource management, as the report of Telefonica. 

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), in his inaugural speech, the president of the important SoftBank Group, Masayoshi Son, stated that, in thirty years, artificial intelligence would be more intelligent than the human brain. On the same occasion, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, stated that artificial intelligence would become the transformative technology of our time.

Although not everything is congratulations on the future of AI, the architect of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, in a talk he gave in April at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, offered a nightmare scenario where artificial intelligence could in the coming years become the new Masters of the Universe, as in the novel. 

The Bonfire of the Vanities, creating and managing many companies better and faster than human managers. Berners-Lee described a world where artificial intelligence-based systems were beginning to develop their decision-making capabilities and explained the impact this could have on the functioning of our economic and financial system.

Artificial intelligence and its associated technologies, such as machine learning and deep learning, together with robotics, are spreading across all industrial sectors, especially in the technological and financial sectors, but also in the health and healthcare, while transforming the world of media, making IT and communications technologists the most sought-after employees to the detriment of salespeople and strategists.

A New Boss: Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is changing how business leaders do their jobs, from who is hired to how they are evaluated and promoted. Above the managers, there is now a new boss: artificial intelligence. 

The same technology that underlies a navigation app to find the most efficient route to our destination or makes an online store recommend products based on previous purchases is about to transform offices, promising new answers to questions following: how do you find the best candidates for a job? How do you get the best performance from your employees? And how do you retain the best employees?

The “automatic” performance of these functions by these systems raises many questions that are still unanswered. Privacy is the number one concern when tracking employees, especially concerning their personal behavior. 

The systems that carry out the selection of personnel also raise some questions. For example, Entelo’s system favors candidates with a large network digital footprint, while SAP’s system might prefer those whose characteristics better match those of previously hired employees.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The new catalyst for artificial intelligence is deep learning (DL), which has dramatically improved the capabilities of AI systems. In 2017, two crucial phenomena began to crystallize. 

First, the considerable expansion of the field of action of AI systems covering areas such as health care, agriculture, telecommunications, distribution, and finance, as well as its combination with other emerging technologies such as systems for the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics for big data. 

Second, in 2017 the prototypes of hardware accelerators appeared to improve the performance of the algorithms. Deep learning neural networks for machine learning are the most successful innovation in AI.

We are facing a fourth industrial revolution that will make all companies and businesses revolve around software. AI is the main disruption agent in this new digital transformation phase. 

AI software is becoming more accessible, mainly thanks to the ethics of code sharing and the dissemination of research articles. The entire libraries of software algorithms for machine learning and deep learning are shared openly to stimulate progress in this field and to reach the level of artificial general intelligence; that is, the machine behaves just like a human being.

AI offers great potential for applications in combination with other emerging or existing technologies, such as big data analysis, natural language understanding, speech translation, and system optimization. Marketing departments use advanced analytics tools that focus on customer behavior, customer logic, and optimization of marketing actions. Many of these tools and technologies use artificial intelligence components. 

AI has always been present in these environments. Still, as the volume and diversity of data have grown and cloud storage has become popular to increase computing power and data storage rapidly, there has been a resurgence and integration with analytical marketing.

The Debate is Served

Concepts like superintelligence or smart algorithms make people uncomfortable, but analytic machines with incredibly fast cognitive performance are emerging.

But collaborating with robotics for automation is where artificial intelligence is taking center stage. ICTs are increasingly oriented toward the automation of tasks and intelligent multisectoral solutions, sparking the debate that divides European society and, in particular, on the advantages and disadvantages of the progressive automation of industrial manufacturing processes and the service provision processes, with the consequent disappearance of certain jobs and the creation of new ones with their complementary skills and abilities.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 30% of the tasks of most occupations or jobs are repetitive and can be automated using a robot that, running pre-established software, interacts with the processes, production, and service provision. 

Under this concept, thousands of robots were installed in 2017 to serve customers, the so-called chatbots, and to simplify and optimize many companies’ back-offices.

In this deployment of new solutions, we must not forget that the subjects of the emerging cognitive society are social beings for whom technology is a tool we define, control, and manage within a cultural and social concept. 

As in previous industrial revolutions, digitalization comes with opportunities and risks that we must consider with some perspective since the most optimistic experts suggest that the professions will not be fully automated but only in certain specific tasks. Indeed, a worker generally performs a set of tasks, and a robot will not completely replace his work.

Furthermore, in a broader concept, it is obvious that automation can be an opportunity for Europe. A worker, helped by a robot, can concentrate on tasks that require experience, judgment, intuition, or creativity so that technological progress will create new occupations and make work more interesting and help improve employee productivity. 

Therefore, we should not look exclusively at the most unfavorable scenarios when making decisions on this issue.

Current Applications

In combination with artificial intelligence, robotics solves problems and provides creative solutions in fields as inaccessible as medical rehabilitation.

While personal assistants, such as Siri or Cortana, are showing signs of true artificial intelligence, although their use is very uneven worldwide. Some of these conversational bots have been incorporated into dialog systems as automated virtual assistants, and companies are using them to replace the function of call centers. 

This system can respond to the user and help him in multiple activities, such as learning, searching, remembering, connecting with other systems, or integrating services. The history of this technology dates back to 1966 when a device called Eliza could mimic the responses of a psychotherapist and simulate a human conversation. Nevertheless,

Disturbing applications also emerged in 2017: after the presidential elections in the United States, news appeared about new digital assistants and the use of software agents from chatbots to botnets through Facebook or Twitter to massively shape or alter an opinion. 

The voters in the audience influence political events in the real world and gain political power. Does the software make kings or elect presidents?

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has already forecasted that in 2017 the largest area of ​​technology spending in Western Europe will be cognitive applications ($516 million), including process applications and cognitively enabled applications that automatically learn, discover, and make recommendations or recommendations. 

Predictions. On the other hand, cognitive software and artificial intelligence platforms that provide the tools and technologies to analyze, organize, access, and offer advisory services based on a range of structured and unstructured information, will see investments received reach three hundred and fifty million dollars this year.

Artificial intelligence is currently the focus of many technology companies. It would seem that almost all the main players in the technological world are already investing in their own AI, acquiring companies specialized in this area, or doing both.

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