Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to machines that make decisions like human beings and look like they are intelligent. Essentially AI is when you have non-human sources performing/facilitating human tasks.

AI aims to connect with human beings, using speech or text, and complete routine tasks just like a human would.

How is AI Used in Business?

Applications of AI in business [1] are time and resource savers in the following ways:

– Improving customer services
Computers serve as “virtual assistants” to provide a knowledge base, answer customer queries in real-time, and automate billing and other tasks.

– Automating tasks
Reading the output and classifying the output of “smart sensors.” Then appropriately routing documents, requests, or information.

– Optimising logistics
Using data from sensors such as imagers or counters to work out optimal routes or pathways.

– Manufacturing robotics
Automating parts of or whole manufacturing processes using robots with the capability to perform tasks and make judgements and choices based on information from sensors. The robots can be coordinated into a workflow which may be faster and more consistent than human workers.

– Predicting behaviour
Applying formulas and algorithms to information gained from online behaviour to match customers with likely needs or interests to personalise and direct marketing. For example, tracking user responses to key choice points in the sales funnel to individualise the dialog for each prospect.

– Managing business data
Continuously monitoring data from online transactions, customer metrics, or other sources, applying statistical tools and making business predictions and recommendations based on established formulas.

– Detecting fraud
Monitoring behaviour looking for patterns that suggest fraud.

– Malware detection
Monitoring downloaded data looking for patterns that indicate malware.

– Assisting in language translation
Although experience has shown automated language translation is still problematic, AI has been useful when paired with human translators.

AI’s Commercial Uses

Businesses increasingly rely [3] on artificial intelligence to fine-tune their customer offerings and use AI every day to cater to their customers’ needs. Sky use AI to build machine learning models that recommend content to viewers based on the viewer’s current mood. AI algorithms help Google make its searches more accurate for each user. Netflix also uses AI algorithms to customise its content to individual viewer preferences.

Artificial intelligence is not without its drawbacks however.

Boeing encountered negative press [4] when faulty AI contributed to the crashes of several of their Max8 jets, with this being an extreme case of how AI is not yet without faults with potentially hugely damaging consequences.

Customer privacy and company transparency are also topics that are currently being addressed in discussions about artificial intelligence ethics. Artificial intelligence can help businesses customize products and offerings which benefit their customers, but algorithms don’t think along ethical lines. There is still a big difference between humans and algorithms. Artificial intelligence is only as good as its programming. It will recommend content based on what has been previously viewed. It may be that algorithms, not knowing right from wrong, innocently continue to recommend harmful content to viewers. In the case of Boeing, AI went horribly wrong.

Overall though, Artificial intelligence is only going to get better and will help to advance businesses which use its capabilities wisely. Last year, the Wall Street Journal published an estimate of the economic impact of artificial intelligence on the world economy [5]. By 2030, they estimate, AI “has the potential to incrementally add 16 percent or around $13 trillion.” They compare the impact of AI with the impact of steam engines in the 1880s in boosting labour productivity. The contribution of AI would be from the automation of labour which could increase the production of goods.

[1] https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/how-are-businesses-using-artificial-intelligence

[2] https://speakt.com/5-reasons-machine-translations-will-never-replace-human-translators/

[3] https://becominghuman.ai/how-netflix-uses-ai-and-machine-learning-a087614630fe

[4] https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/how-a-confused-ai-may-have-fought-pilots-attempting-to-save-boeing-737-max8s/news-story/bf0d102f699905e5aa8d1f6d65f4c27e

[5] https://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2018/11/16/the-impact-of-artificial-intelligence-on-the-world-economy/

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