Gartner Inc.’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016 mentions Artificial Intelligence (AI) or “perceptual smart machine age” as one of the three dominant technology trends in the rapidly changing digital business landscape.

Gartner, AI, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics

Image credit: Gartner

AI is not a new concept; older variants of task automation and robotics have been in use in the manufacturing industry and warehouses for decades as well as deep-learning algorithms in organizations. But the concept of artificial intelligence has evolved greatly over the years. There is a technological revolution underway where basic cloud computing has given way to powerful, life-changing applications, machine learning and big data. In the coming decades, AI is set to become a catalyst in this data-driven, digital revolution that will see organizations adopt AI on a larger scale.

While we are a still some way off from using humanoids or driverless cars in our daily lives, AI systems in the form of super computers, online behaviour patterns/speech/image recognition and personal assistants are already a part of our lives helping to streamline processes and save time. Some other recent examples of AI include:

  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Super Computers
  • Machine Learning
  • AI-powered SMS platforms
  • Biochips
  • Neurobionics
  • Bioacoustic sensing
  • Human Augmentation
  • Virtual Digital Assistants
  • Voice Assistants
  • AI bots
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Smart Robotics

From healthcare to financial institutions, transportation, entertainment and education, AI is increasingly carving a niche for itself, gaining prominence in different sectors and verticals, reshaping industries and enterprises alike. But while its rapid growth is mostly attributed to advancements in machine-learning algorithms, massive increase in processing power and availability of vast, inexpensive data storage, businesses cite ‘time’ as the biggest factor behind the increasing dependency on AI – it can process big data in a relatively short time and far more efficiently than human resources. From a business perspective, in a digital enterprise ecosystem of the future, time will be the biggest factor behind innovations in AI.

According to a Gartner report, “By 2020, it’s estimated that A.I. bots will power 85% of all customer service interactions. By as early as 2018, many digital assistants will be able to mimic human conversations, both in how they speak and how they listen. 

Roughly 20% of all business content will come from A.I. as soon as 2018.” (source: 3 ways businesses are saving time with A.I. by Larry Alton, Computerworld from IDG)

On the flip side, this has given rise to misgivings regarding the loss of jobs in the face of rapid automation in organizations. However, given the current trends, while technology-related job loss will definitely take place in some instances due to the rise of ‘smart machines,’ it will not be on an alarming scale. In fact, human-computer interactions will result in beneficial partnerships, rather than conflicts. According to a Forrester report, “While automation will lead to a net loss of 9.1 million US jobs by 2025, that’s nowhere near the 69 million that many pundits have predicted. Advances in automation technologies will mean that humans increasingly work side by side with robots, software agents and other machines.”

There is no denying that we are already smack dab in the middle of the AI age, there are divided opinions about the pros and cons of the increasing pace of AI adoption. But while we are still a long way off from self-supporting machine intelligence, each innovation brings us a little closer to a ‘machine age’ where AI-powered businesses transact and service their customers at super-human speeds with matching levels of convenience.