Much has been written about artificial intelligence (AI) and depending on the point of
view, the focus has been on the opportunities and possibilities or the dangers and risks.
From data-based early detection systems in medicine to face-based monitoring scenarios,
there was just about everything you could imagine. But while we have largely speculated
about the developments of AI systems over the past decade, the implementation and use of
these systems is now on the agenda. Why? Because after the collection and transmission
of information, the focus will now be on information processing. The age of artificial
intelligence begins now.
AI as a manager of needs
In the coming years, artificial intelligence will only really begin its triumphant advance. Why? Because after Big Data, Big Intelligence will have to come to evaluate the flood of data! Only AI systems can help companies to filter out the market trends and business potential from the abundance of more or less structured data volumes that will be at the heart of digital business. Those who are the first to recognize these trends and potentials will be the first to make a suitable offer.
And that's not all: thanks to AI, customer relationship management will also be transformed into predictive customer relationship (PCR), i.e. predicting future customer behavior. This means that not only is the previous purchase history considered by multivariate analysis procedures, but also expected purchase probabilities are calculated by AI algorithms. In the optimal case, the customer is then supplied with products that he did not order at all - but because of the correct needs forecast, he still keeps them and does not return them.
But e-business will thus not only become a discipline of probability calculation, but will also develop into an instrument for needs management by means of AI. The resulting Prescriptive E-Business (PEB) will not only forecast the customer's future needs and purchase decisions, but also try to actively guide the customer in this direction. This would also make it possible to steer the customer's attention towards subconscious needs or even awaken completely new needs. Of course, always with the goal of being able to serve the customer with a suitable product at the right time.
AI as a carrier of hope
In addition to this economic perspective, however, the developing AI systems will bring about changes in completely different dimensions. These will be determined by the independent learning of the algorithms, which will enable us to independently recognize problems in relevant subject areas and to develop solutions. The focus will be on the three central social problems: resources, ecology and health. How do we use digitization and the associated data to optimally develop our human, organizational, physical, financial and technological resources and thus maintain and further expand social prosperity for all people? How do we use digitization and the associated data to secure our living space and make it even more liveable, and to answer the central questions of the climate crisis, nature conservation, energy system transformation and mobility for all people? How do we use digitization and the associated data to increase our life expectancy and quality of life and improve our healthcare system so that prevention and care become and remain a matter of course for all people?
To answer these questions there will be on the one hand the supervised learning of AI algorithms, where an output is calculated by means of given inputs in order to derive results or make predictions. On the other hand, there will be unsupervised learning, where hidden patterns in the data set are decoded without a concrete objective being formulated beforehand. In this way, a successful cancer therapy or proactive cancer treatment could be found out from the billions of data sets of affected and unaffected people based on eating or living habits.
AI as an alarmist
Where there is light, there is also shadow, and this will (unfortunately) not be any different in the AI age. Automatic weapon systems, which are AI-controlled attack drones that use facial recognition to target individual people or specific groups of people, are not something anyone can seriously approve of. Since there is no worldwide ban on this type of weapon so far, it is to be expected that they will be developed. And of course, it is only a small step from face recognition to scenarios of total surveillance, where human behavior is captured, evaluated by AI algorithms and converted into reward or punishment, as we are already experiencing in China.
Against this background, it is clear that we need an ethics catalog for the AI age. And there is another problem to be solved: AI systems are real power guzzlers and therefore leave a considerable CO2 footprint. Training an artificial intelligence for speech recognition alone produces five times as much CO2 as a car emits during its entire life cycle. This has been calculated by researchers at the University of Massachusetts. In terms of climate protection, AI systems must therefore be included in our CO2 budget.
AI as an investment
Where exciting perspectives and megatrends can be found, capital speculation and investment opportunities are of course not far away. For this reason, special AI funds will increasingly emerge that invest in these systems and the associated companies - regardless of whether they are already listed unicorns or start-ups that are not yet listed. The proportion of AI start-ups is already growing steadily in relation to all other newcomers. In 2018, eight percent of all new start-ups were based on an AI business idea. In the future, the value of a company will be determined by the performance of its AI algorithm, which will be stored as a modern Coca-Cola formula in the companies' virtual safes. In addition, there will be a financial infrastructure with an AI segment, an AI-INDEX on the stock exchange and comprehensive analyses of future share price developments - naturally based on AI systems that will evaluate the development of AI companies.
AI as a worldview
The spirits will divide at AI systems, there will be followers and opponents. As with most technologies, the question of who will use AI systems, when, where and under what conditions must be answered. Then, perhaps the more important question arises: Will the human hand behind the intelligent computer-controlled systems mean good or bad to us by using AI? To put it bluntly, this means: Will we be given a shut-off button for the algorithms - and the right to press it? We will also have to answer these questions in the decade that has just begun, so that the digital 20s will go down in history as a positive AI age. And not as a nightmare.
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