The Industrial Revolution marked a transformative period in history. It was a time when mechanization altered the landscape of labor and production. Now, as we stand on the cusp of the AI wave, we find ourselves drawing parallels between these two pivotal periods in history.
During the Industrial Revolution, while advancements led to unprecedented prosperity, they also brought about significant disruptions– skilled artisans and craftspeople saw their roles diminish as machines took over tasks that human hands had performed for centuries.
Likewise, as we enter the era of AI, we witness the potential for automation to transform industries again. To shed light on the intricacies of AI and its ever-expanding impact, the AI Decoded panel of the World Changing Ideas Summit 2023 delved into AI’s impact on human productivity, intelligence, and coexistence.
DEFINING RED LINES IN AI
Fatmah Baothman, a Member of the Global Future Council on the Future of Artificial Intelligence at the World Economic Forum, underscored the dual nature of AI, good and bad.
Acknowledging the risks associated with AI, Baothman emphasized the need to establish “red lines” to ensure that AI respects human rights.
“It’s imperative that companies have a well-defined AI strategy once they determine where AI should be employed to support humans.”
Fatmah Baothman, a Member of the Global Future Council on the Future of Artificial Intelligence at the World Economic Forum
Companies must also weigh the associated costs and make informed decisions about their infrastructure and adaptation readiness.
Furthermore, Baothman advocated an AI strategy for integrating other cutting-edge technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and quantum computing, to benefit the organization.
Prof. Le Song, Chief Technology Officer at BioMap and a Professor of Machine Learning at MBZUAI, echoed Baothman’s sentiments by highlighting the transformative potential of AI on economies. AI, he notes, is not merely an information organizer but a dynamic catalyst for generating novel ideas and fostering economic growth. He stressed that AI is a valuable tool and ally while pointing out that as AI advances, some jobs will inevitably be replaced.
Prof. Le Song, Chief Technology Officer at BioMap and a Professor of Machine Learning at MBZUAI
For Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-Founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim, AI challenges a basic human instinct – survival. He challenged the notion that AI itself is a threat, arguing that it is the intentions of humans with access to advanced technology that should be scrutinized.
Abu Sheikh raised a thought-provoking question: Is AI smarter than people? “AI outperforms human intelligence and productivity, raising concerns about its potential misuse by those in power.”
He further discussed the imminent wave of pushing Large Language Models (LLMs) into execution jobs, which has significant implications for the workforce.
Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-Founder of Astra Tech and CEO of Botim
Furthermore, Abu Sheikh acknowledged the inevitable drive of companies to cut costs, making it vital for individuals to take responsibility for their survival. He likened the current technological upheaval to the Industrial Revolution and the advent of printers, adding that AI could divide the workforce between tech operators and those without skills.
SURVIVAL OF THE SMARTEST
One thing is clear: how we currently develop AI systems, which often involve extensive training, is on the brink of significant change. In the near future, the reliance on pre-existing data may diminish, allowing AI to operate in real-time with remarkable efficiency. However, as these transformations unfold, the responsibility for adaptation falls squarely on individuals and organizations alike.
Baothman underscores the urgency for individuals to enhance their capabilities actively. Companies play a crucial role in fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth within their workforce, she said.
“AI does not provide 100% certainty, but there needs to be a human capable of running a job in the future; AI needs to be integrated at every level of the business within checks and balances,” she said.
How can companies balance the value afforded by AI without completely replacing humans? “It’s not about what companies do but how the industry goes. AI is not 100% accurate, but that’s not an excuse to rely on humans for 2% of the time where AI fails,” said Abu Sheikh.
“Individuals need to be well-versed and well-educated to bring more value than an algorithm,” he added.
The panelists agreed that the ultimate test for individuals is the ability to upskill and adapt. “Those who manage to do so will continue to thrive and grow, while those who do not may find themselves left behind,” said Abu Sheikh.
The survival of the smartest is not merely a catchphrase but a guiding principle in a world where humans and AI coexist, each contributing their strengths to the collective success of businesses and society.
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