Johannesburg, 22 Aug 2023
Almost every day, we’re confronted with headlines about how artificial intelligence (AI) will either make our lives immeasurably better – or worse. It’s clear that people are already seeing the value in AI-empowered tools. ChatGPT, for example, has proved wildly popular and is already transforming the way that content is generated.
The impact of AI is only just beginning to be felt, but before we assess this, let’s take a step back and ask, what is AI? AI essentially involves computers and machines being given the ability to simulate human intelligence and think like we do. In addition, machines are acquiring abilities that previously only humans had, such as being able to understand, learn, see, hear, speak and move.
The advantages of AI
Unlike humans, computers don’t get tired, make mistakes or need time off. With AI, they can handle massive amounts of data and continuously do repetitive tasks far more efficiently than humans can.
Because AI-enabled machines are always learning, they are particularly good at predictive analysis based on being able to recognise patterns or trends. AI robots in manufacturing settings are both stronger and more precise than humans.
Are humans now surplus to requirements?
There has been a lot of fear-mongering around the growth of AI, with predictions of huge job losses. At the same time, tech industry leaders are confidently predicting that the net result of widespread AI adoption will be an increase in opportunities for humans.
Undeniably, AI will cause job losses. However, it must be recognised that the types of jobs that will be lost are among the least enjoyable tasks that people do today. Think data entry, repetitive manual tasks and any other roles that lack a great deal of creativity.
Unleashing human potential
With AI-enabled machines and computers doing much of the drudge work, the scene will be set for both businesses and workers to experience a new level of empowerment. AI has the potential to radically improve business efficiency and productivity, saving time and money.
Companies that take advantage of the opportunities that AI offers – and they need to start doing this now – will thrive. Those that don’t, put simply, won’t. Human workers will need to reskill and acquire the ability to work with AI tools to produce better results. This training will itself be enabled by AI, and will mean that workers become much better at what they do.
The workforce of the future
In the very near future, the role of humans will change. People with expertise and particular skills will be able to harness the power of AI to take their own abilities and output to the next level. AI is not intended to replace human inventiveness and innovation, but rather to complement and enable it.
The combination of human ingenuity, knowledge and experience with the instant learning capabilities of AI will result in the transformation of business as we know it. It’s hard to imagine a sector where AI won’t have an impact – essentially, anywhere that business processes generate data and operations depend on decisions based on actionable insights extracted from that data.
AI will have a particularly profound impact in data services, logistics, retail, healthcare and manufacturing. In fact, it’s already happening. As a business, you can choose to be empowered by AI and gain a vital competitive advantage over your rivals, or hesitate and watch as they eat your lunch.
As an employee or business leader, it’s imperative that you learn how best to work with AI – and how to make it work for you. AI will make you smarter, faster and more effective at what you do. AI will take care of the routine, mundane aspects of your work, leaving you free to take on more stimulating and creative tasks.