In a recent analysis, PwC analysts unveiled their predictions for what artificial intelligence will hold for the private sector and wider world in 2018. Among the big four accounting and professional services firm’s claims, it believes that employers are going to feel the effects of the innovations first, nations will begin to face tech-related conflicts, and those that figure out how best to deploy AI will define talent in the space more than tech experts.
The following is the full list of PwC’s AI projections for 2018:
1. AI will impact employers before it impacts employment
2. AI will come down to earth—and get to work
3. AI will answer the big question about data
4. Functional specialists, not techies, will decide the AI talent race
5. Cyberattacks will be more powerful because of AI—but so will cyberdefense
6. Opening AI’s black box will become a priority
7. Nations will spar over AI
8. Pressure for responsible AI won’t be on tech companies alone
In terms of the near-term impact AI will have on the workforce, PwC writes that it will be incremental this year and that it will not completely upend the labor market even in the long term. However, the company stresses that the groundwork to combine powerful technology with human wisdom is beginning to progress significantly and will be a key facet for companies to master.
“AI likely won’t devastate the job market in the long run — and it certainly won’t do so in 2018,” states the report. “But organizations face a challenge: AI works best when it brings together data and teams from different disciplines. It also requires structures and skills for human/machine collaboration.”
To confront this hurdle, enterprises must focus on collaboration and breaking down the many organizational barriers to working together. “But most organizations keep data in cartels and teams in silos,” stated PwC. “Few have started work on giving employees the basic AI skills that they’ll need. The average enterprise isn’t ready for what AI is about to demand of it.”
The study also notes that the automation and data-structuring benefits of AI are already happening — even if they are too drab and arcane to make major headlines. Rather than bringing actual robots into the office or unveiling advanced intellectual power that can win at chess, for example, the innovations that are occurring mostly come down to minimizing employee busywork and automating mundane processes.
In this way, as PwC terms it, “AI is often entering through the backdoor as everyday applications incorporate it” rather than causing splashy transformations to core business operations.
The firm does warn, however, that the creeping adoption of AI technologies is something that requires stakeholders in various walks of life to ensure society uses “responsible AI.” At least for now, this is not about deterring Hollywood-type doomsday scenarios and instead demands everyone to remain vigilant about the potential for increasingly smart technology to invade privacy, undo progress on transparency, and advance too rapidly for regulation to keep up.
“A global consensus is emerging around principles for responsible AI,” according to the PwC report. “These principles can safeguard organizations — and position them to reap economic benefits. Self-regulatory organizations will likely be a growing solution to the gaps in responsible AI usage that regulators — often challenged to keep up with the latest technologies — leave behind.”
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