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The Future of Artificial Intelligence: What Is AI with Elzar Simon [Part Two]

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: What Is AI with Elzar Simon [Part Two]

With the recent debut of ChatGPT, everyone is now talking about AI. C-suite leaders and business heads are crafting AI strategies to shape how discriminative and generative AI will transform business processes. Business teams are prioritizing use cases and deploying solutions to boost worker productivity and enterprise innovation. Ethicists are pondering what safeguards and regulations need to be put in place to protect the public. And even average citizens have used tools like ChatGPT to answer questions, gain knowledge, and improve their day-to-day workflow. 

Purpose of This Blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide IT leaders and teams with insights about how they can use advanced technology to transform IT operations. 

It is against this backdrop that podcast host Michelle Dawn Mooney welcomed Elzar Simon back to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to IT to discuss the future of AI. Elzar Simon is a senior IT director for global infrastructure at New York University (NYU) and is the author of A.I. Hacked: A Practical Guide to the Future with Artificial Intelligence and AI Hacked 2: Reimagine the Future. You can read part one of this blog here. 

How AI Is Optimizing Consumer and Business Processes 

Host Mooney said that her earlier conversation with Simon reminded her of a science fiction movie coming to life and felt a little scary. She said that she and Simon would explore both the benefits and challenges of greater AI use globally. 

Simon said that AI already is used heavily in both consumer and business applications, even if people aren’t aware of it. In the home, AI is used to provide the intelligence for devices

that connect to television sets, security systems, doorbells, and even appliances. AI alerts consumers if someone is at their door or if their refrigerators are left ajar. It also helps set the volume on TVs and music devices and powers autonomous vacuum cleaners. 

Robots are one of the leading AI applications, said Simon.  Consumer device manufacturers are racing to create household robots that  can help clean the floor, cook meals, wash the dishes, wash dirty clothes, entertain the kids, and even take care of the elderly.

In business, robots are used to perform highly routinized tasks that may be difficult, dangerous, or too heavy for humans to execute. These tasks include welding, painting, production

or assembly line activities, warehousing, perimeter surveillance, anti terrorism, firefighting, handling of hazardous materials, and many more. During the pandemic, robots were used to deliver food and medicines to patients, to help them recover, while keeping healthcare workers safer. Hotels use robots to deliver room service and handle guest luggage, while restaurants and food delivery companies have also used robots to take food to customers. 

Generative AI can help workers do tasks faster and better. It can help professionals write resumes, develop business plans, write new position descriptions, and more. Many organizations are now finding value with generative AI’s ability to take meeting notes, summarize conversations and next steps, schedule follow-up calls, and send invitations. In the field of medicine, clinicians will use generative AI to summarize patient visits so that they can focus on patient care. 

Generative AI also creates art, such as short stories, poems, music, videos, animations, or paintings. The first AI-generated painting titled Portrait of Edmund De Bellamy sold for $432,000 in a Christie’s auction in 2018. And this was before the debut of generative AI, which empowers everyone to become an artist. It’s interesting to note that no less than Paul McCarthy recently announced that the final album of the Beatles will use AI to re-create the voice of John Lennon.

Using AI to Automate Driving in the Transportation and Logistics Sector 

Host Mooney asked Simon to share how AI is being used in the transportation and logistics sector. 

Simon said that AI is currently being used to develop autonomous cars, buses, trucks, and trains. Tesla and Waymo are leading this charge in the U.S., but innovation is occurring around the world.  

Autonomous vehicles are already available now, but regulations vary around the world, in terms of whether they can be operated independently or require a human operator for backup. 

As early as 2016, six leading European truck manufacturers successfully tested six self-driving trucks that left factories in Sweden and Germany and arrived safely in the port of Rotterdam. 2016, stated Simon. In the U.S., major truck manufacturers are also racing to produce self-driving trucks. While the U.S. has 3.5 million truck drivers, the transportation and logistics industry already faces a shortage of nearly 80,000 drivers which is predicted to double by 2031. 

The trucking industry is crucial to the US economy, because trucks carry containers from the seaport to warehouses, to dealers, to stores and even residential areas. So, autonomous trucks will help maintain continuity of service and overcome worker shortages, Simon said. 

Current Challenges with AI 

Host Mooney asked Simon to discuss some of the challenges AI is presenting, mentioning the writers’ strike in Hollywood, where negotiators are seeking to ensure that AI won’t replace humans writing TV and movie shows. 

Simon agreed that many individuals have concerns, grouping these issues as leading to fewer jobs, empowering bad actors, and causing human learning and creative skills to decline. 

Simon agreed that as AI matures, jobs will be lost. When trucks become fully autonomous, up to 3.5 million truck drivers will no longer be needed and will need to seek another job. The same holds true for the one million Uber drivers in the U.S., who will be replaced by self-driving taxi cabs. 

Simon cited a study by Oxford Economics in 2019, which predicted that 20 million manufacturing jobs will be displaced by robots, with 14 million of these jobs being lost in China alone. 

Now, with the advent of generative AI, these predictions have grown. A recent Forbes article covered a study by Goldman Sachs, which predicted that 300 million jobs will be lost or degraded by AI. As an example, IBM CEO Arvin Krishna went on the record with Bloomberg, saying that he sees 7,800 jobs at his company being replaced by AI and automation in the next five years. 

Simon said that he predicts that governments may give residents a universal basic income to keep the economy going. That’s because robots don’t spend money. 

How Individuals Can Prepare for a Future of AI 

Mooney asked Simon for closing thoughts on how businesses and workers can prepare for a future dominated by AI. 

Simon said that each and every person should prepare to live and work in an era of AI and that major shifts would be occurring over the next three decades. 

“The future will not be a status quo. It will not be business as usual. Whatever formula of success that worked in the last three decades may not necessarily be applicable in the next thirty years,” said Simon. “It is imperative for us to be watchful and thoughtful about developments in AI, robotics and automation in order to properly navigate the future.”

Simon concluded by sharing a quote from his book AI Hacked 2. “Throughout the history of mankind. Success favored the ones who were ahead of their time. The thought leaders, the visionaries, the pioneers, the explorers, the founders, the inventors, the originals, the prime movers, the change agents, the early adopters. They had the unique ability to reimagine the future.”

Want to learn more about the future of AI? Watch part one and part two of the podcast with Elzar Simon.

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