Artificial intelligence (AI) in business operations is growing as organizations are rushing to adapt to new realities and uses of the technology.
“AI is everywhere in our daily life,” says Dr. Will Wei Sun, assistant professor of quantitative methods and statistics at Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. “If you go shopping on Amazon, the entire experience is personalized. If you purchase something, you get a totally personalized recommendation accordingly. If you go to YouTube and watch videos, all those video recommendations are personalized. That's some of the personalization happening in our daily lives.”
According to a report by CompTIA, 86% of CEOs considered AI mainstream tech in their office by 2021. Added to that, 91.5% of leading businesses are continuing to invest in AI.
Sun spoke about artificial intelligence and its impact on business, how machine learning and artificial intelligence help business, the future of AI and how Krannert is offering insight into this technology.
How Is AI Already Changing Business?
Sun says AI started with data processing to help users find the right data. He says that AI is growing far beyond that now.
“In the past 10 years, AI started to move to a second generation where deep learning has played a very important role,” he says.
According to Sun, the deep-learning models identify more useful information from unstructured data. They study historical data and then make predictions, mainly focused on what are called single-agent cases. Now, the new trend is to incorporate markets into AI to consider the multiple-agent decision-making scenarios.
Currently, artificial intelligence is being used for business analytics and business management, along with several other ways, according to software company Levity:
- Accounting – AI can be used to perform repetitive tasks and to automate payroll.
- Contact centers – Artificial intelligence can identify urgent needs of customers and run outreach campaigns.
- Customer support – Chatbots and voicebots are often the first contact a customer has with a business, and this is driven by AI.
- Human resources – AI is often used to analyze job candidates and business organizations.
- Marketing – AI is used for better conversion rate optimization and customized website experiences.
- Operations – IT processes such as cybersecurity and software maintenance can be handled by AI, as can digital transformation.
- Sales – Artificial intelligence is used for demand forecasting, lead scoring, sales chatbots and email.
As the market grows, more uses for AI will be found. Forrester predicts the AI software market will grow to $37 billion by 2025.
How Is the Use of AI Evolving?
Currently, there are three types of artificial intelligence, according to CompTIA, but only one of these is on the market:
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence – This AI is available now. It solves a single problem and performs one task to satisfaction, such as making suggestions for users.
- Artificial General Intelligence – This theoretical concept will mimic how a human reasons.
- Artificial Super Intelligence – Also only a concept, this is what people usually imagine what AI looks like, with reasoning beyond human capabilities.
AI is being fine-tuned by companies such as Google and IBM. Enhanced natural language processing is being used by IBM, and a development called fluid intelligence is also in the works, combining different forms of knowledge to solve more complex problems.
In terms of markets, business is using artificial intelligence toward more fine-tuned predictive algorithms, Sun says.
“That will get at a better understanding of the needs of both businesses and customers,” he says.
What Are Some Issues With AI?
One of the key issues with artificial intelligence, as with all newer technologies, is its ethical use. Privacy is one of the top concerns of people interacting with AI.
“As AI starts to be everywhere in our daily life, people realize the danger of AI,” Sun says.
“Some people are afraid of that. And that's why many researchers are looking into cybersecurity issues in terms of the AI algorithm. These algorithms that save information about you can be a privacy concern.”
Sun says he’s researching such issues, looking for ways to protect the customer's privacy.
One study identified these ethical issues caused by the growth of AI:
- Broad societal issues – Lack of informed consent and reduction of human contact
- Economic issues – Disappearance of jobs and cost to innovation
- Freedom – Lack of access to information and loss of human decision-making
- Justice and fairness – Violation of human rights in the supply chain and of end users
- Metaphysical issues – Machine consciousness and “awakening” of AI
- Privacy and data protection – Misuse of personal data and security problems
- Reliability – Lack of quality data and problems of integrity
- Safety – Harm to physical integrity
- Transparency – Lack of accountability and bias
“All these AIs are actually human-trained algorithms,” Sun says. “These issues—the security issue, the privacy issue, fairness, ethics—are driven by this. For example, if your data is biased, the output from your data will be biased. So, we have to be very careful about this.”
Where Will the Jobs Be With AI?
Despite the fear of losing jobs to computers, experts say more jobs will be created in the pursuit of AI technology.
“It’s a common question from students,” Sun says. “They ask, ‘Will my job be replaced by AI in the future?’ Given the advance of AI, many jobs will eventually be replaced by AI or by machines with AI. But because of AI, many more jobs will be created.”
According to CompTIA, jobs are anticipated to be in high demand. Approximately 97 million specialists will be needed in the AI industry by 2025.
How Is Krannert Helping Students Learn About AI?
The online MBA program at Purdue University is offering students a look at the future of artificial intelligence with a special course called Frontiers in AI. The course includes a high-level overview of AI technology, its proposed uses and several industries that are impacted by it.
“I feel it's the right time to scale up one’s skills to take full advantage of AI,” Sun says.
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