This is a question that many organizations today are asking, and many want to believe that a tool that can perform tasks without human interaction can help alleviate some of the stress they experience on a day to day basis. In order to compete in today’s market, it has become a standard for companies to use AI and tools alike to aggregate their data in order to ease the task of filtering and searching for a solution and make a better-informed decision. AI seems to be the wave of the future, however, with the current faults of AI and our current level of technological knowledge, AI still has a way to go to live up to the hype we give it.
Firstly, Artificial Intelligence is a machine learning algorithm that can process large quantities of data in real-time. (Big Data) “Back in the 1950s, the fathers of the field Minsky and McCarthy, described artificial intelligence as any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task.” (ZDNet) AI as we know it today can be broken down into two different categories: general and narrow. General AI is an adaptable form of intelligence capable of learning how to carry out various task without having strict programing. Narrow is what we typically see all around us. For example, Siri or Google Assistant are intelligence systems that have been taught or learned how to carry out specific tasks. In the rest of the blog we'll be discussing Narrow AI.
After getting an understanding the kind of AI that is widely implemented, let’s go ahead and discuss a few of the essential benefits that stand out the most. (CIO Artificial Intelligence) The first benefit of AI tools is the ease with which organizations can make decisions. The tools filter and sort through all of an organization’s data with incredible speeds rather than a human filtering through the data which can take days if not weeks. This is a two-fold benefit allowing for an organization to shorten its mean time to decision. Many companies have a very high mean time-to-decision which can cause projects and tasks to slow or even stop until a decision can be made. Another benefit is the efficiency in resource allocation and energy use in projects and tasks. Overall, properly implementing AI where needed can improve operational efficiency.
Although AI has its advantages it also comes with disadvantages. Because AI is still a new technology to the workplace, not every tool can be implemented across the organization and left to work seamlessly without human interaction and monitoring. In some cases, a leader and structure are still needed for it work well. (Forbes) Another disadvantage is the removal of employees from their jobs and the cost that organizations occur when you replace humans with machines. Even after implementing AI tools, you have to justify the reasoning behind an outcome the tool presents. With humans it’s fairly easy to communicate that reasoning however, with AI tools you have to integrate another AI tool to understand the previous AI tool. The last disadvantage that is tied with the previous point is Algorithmic bias. This is the point where a machine may reinforce a bias in a data set. For example, it could associate men with sports and women with domestic tasks if those are all of the examples the tool is given. (CIO A Practical Guide to Machine Learning)
Now, coming back to the original question-- is the hype real? In today’s world, Artificial Intelligence is going to benefit many, but it won’t be the all in one solution yet. AI still has far to go, and the tools are only as good as the data sets and information their linking to. The human factor will still play a part in making these tools work seamlessly. (Public Sector Executive) AI is a technology that needs to continue to improve in order to be fully embraced by all.