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July 20, 2018

The Tipping Point for Artificial Intelligence

Mahe Bayireddi

(kasiastock/Shutterstock)

Artificial intelligence is at a critical point in its evolution.

Over the last 500 years, human knowledge and intelligence has originated from evolution, experience, culture, and computers. In the not-so-distant future, most of the knowledge in the world is going to be extracted by machines and will reside in machines.

At this point, you might be imagining a future full of Terminators and I, Robot, but that’s a long, long way off from where we are today.

Coined in 1956 by Dartmouth Assistant Professor, John McCarthy, “AI is a general term that refers to hardware or software that exhibits behavior which appears intelligent.” AI is designed around how people think. It’s an emulation of human intelligence.

Where Are We Today?

AI has been in its alpha version for the last 60 years, and the next 10 years it will be in its beta version. We are living in a world where innovation is moving from a process-centric mindset to a human-centric mindset.

Whether you know it or not, you are using AI every day. Human-centric products are popping up everywhere. Think about it: Your dad is shopping on Amazon.com, your listening to music on Spotify, your children are watching cartoons on Netflix, and thousands of commuters are using Waze to navigate to their destinations daily.

(kmlmtz66/Shutterstock)

These companies have invested the time and energy into developing a highly personalized user experience powered by AI-driven technology. We see the same trend in other companies like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, and Netflix as they cater to changing human expectations.

AI is at its tipping point – its inflection point. The expectation? We’re either going to see an exponential increase or a catastrophic decline. We’re in what I call the AI Boom.

Why Now?

This AI Boom we are experiencing as a society ties back to five key reasons.

Extensive Data: Presently, there are 50 companies with over 300 million users. Think Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Alone, Instagram has 800 million monthly and 500 million daily active users. The data being collected on a daily basis is limitless.

Improved Algorithms: We are seeing further advancements in algorithms with machine learning, voice and image recognition, and translation between languages. Machine learning, which is a subset of AI, is designed to help make algorithms smarter as they learn from the environment around them (i.e. user activity and behaviors).

Specialized Hardware: Hardware is getting lighter, smarter, and more efficient. We’ve seen this in GPU’s and sensory chips. We are going to continue to see this area evolving with AI.

Cloud Services: There’s increased accessibility, mobility, and scalability – all at a reduced cost.

Investment: Investments in AI have increased significantly by more than 5x since 2000. In addition, there’s a large amount of motivated entrepreneurs in the AI space. In fact, there has been a 14x increase in the number of active AI startups just since 2000.

What’s Happening to the Job Market?

There’s a common misconception out in the market place today. We’ve all seen the headlines: “Robots: Is Your Job at Risk?” or “You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot – and Sooner Than You Think.” If you look at the conversations happening on social media, there’s an actual consensus and fear about the future impact of AI on the job market.

(Joybakal/Shutterstock)

Contrary to public perception, AI will create opportunity. Pedro Domingos, Professor at University of Washington and well-known machine learning researcher said, “Some jobs will be automated, so some will disappear, but many new jobs will appear as well.”

Rudy Karsan, founder of Kenexa and a close mentor of mine, summed it up best in his keynote at the 2018 IAMPHENOM Conference. He spoke about the evolution of humans as economic engines. Historically, jobs have been eliminated as a result of economic advancements. Think about people plowing fields being replaced by horses pulling the plows. Just like the Industrial Revolution removed physical stress, AI will remove mental stress.

As a society, we’ve always adapted to the changing economy and job market. The truth is that jobs will continue to become redundant, but people will begin filling new roles that didn’t even exist ten years ago. Embrace it; It’s going to happen.

What’s Next?

We need AI. It is the ultimate accelerator of a human’s capacity to fill their own potential. Evolution is not assembling. We still only utilize about 10 percent of our total brain function. Think about the additional brain functioning potential we will have as AI continues to develop, improve, and advance.

To put things into perspective, AI can and will expand our neocortex and act as an extension to our 300 million brain modules. According to Ray Kurzweil, American author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist, “The future human will be a biological and non-biological hybrid.”

About the author: Mahe Bayireddi is the CEO of Phenom People, a provider of AI-based HR technology. Mahe previously co-founded several successful technology companies, including SnipSnap, BijaHealth, and BHSP Nexus Software. Known for his expertise in predictive intelligence and machine learning, Mahe holds both a B.E. and M.S. in Computer Science, and served extensively as a software consultant and web developer in the earlier years of his career.

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