Artificial Intelligence, clever thinking but embrace with caution

Artificial Intelligence, clever thinking but embrace with caution

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having a greater influence on everyday life as more and more industries seek innovative solutions to a myriad of problems. You may not be aware that as you travel, work, dine, shop and participate in a host of other leisure activities, behind the scenes AI is hard at work.

But what exactly is AI? Well without getting too complicated, AI can be defined as the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. Depending on what you read there are between four and seven different types of AI but we won’t go into them here because its far more interesting to discuss what AI is used for.

A wide range of uses

The sheer range of its usage is phenomenal, from the camera on your mobile phone to diagnosing diseases, and almost everything in between.

More than 80% of the UK population shop online and AI plays a key role in providing an improved user experience. Through analysing behavioural and transactional data companies develop an understanding of customer needs. They can use the data to deliver an individual, user-oriented shopping experience by targeting customers with personalised offers and recommendations. Basically, AI in online retail creates a bespoke customer experience that far exceeds merely selling a product to a customer. Amazon are experts in this and Alexa will even suggest products to buy based on listening to conversations and previous purchasing decisions!

Helping small businesses

It is not just the online retail giants that are benefiting from using AI, smaller businesses are also reaping the rewards. SMEs have turned to AI-infused CRMs to analyse customer feedback from their communication channels and automatically fine-tune marketing activities, such as lead generation, accordingly. By acquiring sales and marketing insights businesses are able to optimise their customer acquisition strategy.

Human Resources is another area where small businesses are implementing AI. The technology streamlines the recruitment process and can search through hundreds of applicants and select those that provide the best match to meet the specifications of the role. AI can also help a business collate feedback from new employees to help improve processes and cut costs.

There are numerous AI competitive intelligence tools available that gather and analyse digital information on competitors. This can be taken from social media activity, written copy and video content. All of this is done quickly and effortlessly and distributed in a simple report format highlighting any pricing or product changes. The speed of this allows small businesses to respond rapidly and remain highly competitive.

Small businesses from a variety of sectors are using chatbots on their websites to initiate communication with customers. They help answer questions which means the business, to a certain extent, is open 24/7. This is ideal for a business that hasn’t got the resources for sales and customer service teams and enables them to compete against their bigger and wealthier competitors.

Transforming the medical world

In the healthcare sector the use of AI is evolving rapidly. AI plays an integral role in empowering machines to diagnose, analyse and predict certain diseases. It also helps monitor patients health while also enabling scientists to investigate medicine and drug development to aid faster recovery and illness prevention.

The downside

All of this sounds marvellous but there are drawbacks with using AI and probably the biggest concern is that of redundancies. AI replaces the need for a lot of manual labour, especially on repetitive and mundane tasks. Any system that makes a process more efficient is seen as progress but at what cost? Additionally, there are concerns that professional roles will be at risk in the future, the finance sector is just one example that has been highlighted.

There is also the issue of a lack of trust facing businesses that use AI. People like to speak to and connect with fellow humans and are therefore sceptical of anything artificial. I mean when you are ill, wouldn’t you rather be seen by your GP instead of a chatbot? And surely you wouldn’t rely on a robot lawyer to defend you when you need expert legal help.

Oh and let’s not forget about the ongoing issues with autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars. If they don’t sound scary enough, the next steps in making travel faster, easier and less stressful include autonomous flying taxis! What used to be thought of as science fiction could soon become reality. Speaking of Sci-fi, if you are looking for a classic film to watch tonight, I’d recommend Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines.

AI definitely divides opinion and while some believe it will save humanity, others think it will destroy us.

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