For technology professionals, business leaders and observers, the news is hardly surprising. Back in April 2020, as the pandemic raged on, Microsoft’s SEO, Satya Nadella, presciently noted, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”
A big part of this digital transformation was led by artificial intelligence. The pandemic has only accelerated this growth, as the walls around artificial intelligence research and development are rapidly starting to drop everywhere.
AI is getting a renewed push by the government, private corporations and public sector organizations, all of which are trying to capitalize on its capabilities in every way possible.
1. Surveillance Fears Make Way For Better Governance
Governments across the world have invested heavily in mass surveillance programs to track and monitor their citizens better. Expansive networks of cameras capture the movement of billions of people worldwide, but there aren’t enough people to monitor the activity on those cameras 24/7. That’s where AI comes into the picture. AI technologies can sift through a virtually limitless number of videos, including live feed, to provide law enforcement officials with vital information.
However, the potential for misuse of such technologies is vast. Much has been said about the Chinese social credit system that employs such a nationwide surveillance system. The EU continues to deliberate on the prospect of banning such citizen scoring mass surveillance systems altogether. Naturally, mass surveillance systems, which could potentially be optimized with AI, have been met with resistance across the board from private citizens to social groups.
This started to change during the pandemic!
The U.S., U.K. and India were among the many countries that recently deployed drones to identify people flouting lockdown and enforce social distancing rules. While some countries are using AI-powered drone technology to track individual Covid-19 suspects, others are using it to study the general movement of the masses.
There is now mounting evidence to show that public sentiment towards AI-based mass surveillance is tilting in favor of the latter. Over time with gradual, measured and transparent efforts, the walls of resistance will start to crumble.
2. Ethical AI Will Become A Key Differentiator
Although the larger populace has accepted AI’s intrusion into their public and private lives (if only for now), they’ve certainly not warmed up to it.
The police in the U.K. were severely criticized for their attempts to use drones to publicly shame the lockdown evaders. France went a step ahead and banned the use of such methods altogether.
Further, a scathing 2018 report by 26 researchers from 14 countries enumerated the top risks posed by AI. The list spanned digital security, physical security and political security. Criminals using AI to hack digital systems, governments using AI to profile and oppress citizens, and non-state actors weaponizing drones are just some of the threats arising from AI.
The potential risk of AI endangering privacy, data safety and other individual rights cannot be ignored. And this is not lost on businesses. A great deal of research is now available on the ethical implications of AI, and businesses are evolving to meet this challenge. In a recent Deloitte report, business leaders rank data safety concerns of consumers as their top priority when developing AI technologies.
3. AI-Driven Personalization Will Reach New Heights
According to a McKinsey survey, the proliferation of AI is highest in business operations that are closest to the consumers and, therefore, create the highest value. These include service operations, product and/or service development and marketing and sales.
This development is hardly surprising when you consider the findings of a recent Accenture report, which claims that 91% of the consumers are more likely to shop with brands who send them “relevant” information. In response, 89% of digital businesses are investing heavily into personalization. These include the likes of Wells Fargo, USAA, Netflix, Coca-Cola and many others.
As an added advantage, the meteoric penetration of IoT devices has made it possible for businesses to collect a wealth of data on their audiences. They can then feed this data to their personalization AIs to make them more effective in targeting, engaging and converting audiences into customers.
This year will witness a rapid scaling of personalization AIs across the spectrum, and they will become the “new normal” of our shopping experience.
The Balancing Act
There is no doubt that this year will be the year of AI. However, businesses and governments across the world face the uphill task of rebuilding from the damages of the past year and employing AI in innovative ways to deliver better governance to their patrons. The challenge will be to do this without infringing on consumers’ rights and jeopardizing their digital security. Those that do will win the trust of their respective audiences and consolidate their positions, be it in the world of business or politics.
To know more, visit forbes.com
Are you ready to build the business of your dreams? Let our technical expertise and execution show you the best way forward.