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AI – A New Frontier

How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Indian Professionals

An article by our learner, Mr. T L Kantha Rao, (PGDM Executive, July 2020 Batch)

From Apple’s Siri to driverless cars, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is disrupting most of the industries. While many believe that AI means robots with human-like features, AI actually encompasses right from your voice search on Google to predicting the possibility of confirmation of your waitlisted train ticket, immigration checks at border security gates at airports with the use of facial recognition technology.

Many of us would think that conventional coding and AI are one and the same thing, however, they are fundamentally different. The former needs hard-coded logic to respond to any of your queries and the latter utilizes data to capture the inherent logic to serve any future requests.
Indirectly, the machine is learning from the data. We learn so many things just by observing them; for example, we do not teach our child about the dimensions and physical characteristics of trees for them to recognize them as trees. It is only through observation that the child starts recognizing trees. This is exactly what we do to the machines. Machines learn using advanced algorithms such as support vector machines (SVM) or random forests and come up with logical inputs.

The potential of AI is humongous. Just imagine, how easy our life in retail stores will be if we can skip long queues at billing? Getting suggestions on movies we like to see without asking us directly or helping companies to predict a possible failure of an aeroengine well in advance to avoid any catastrophes. When driverless technology becomes widespread, we will experience a whole new world, which offers exciting opportunities that we would otherwise never have imagined. In our exam preparation, how fantastic it would be if we have an ‘AI tutor’ that just clarify doubts in the Accounting subject without running through the ocean of useless and outdated web pages on the internet before finding the right page!

Like a coin, AI also has a flip side that may affect the community at large, and is not really in our best interest. High use of AI automation, may lead to job losses in some industries and will put the livelihoods of some less-skilled workers at risk. AI has the ability to spread inappropriate news so quickly which can in turn disrupt the stock markets or erode the trust between two people/entities.

It is also possible that if it is in the wrong hands, AI arms race could inadvertently lead to an AI war that will also result in mass killings. The AI technology that has been developed so far is designed to perform small or narrow tasks such as driverless cars, facial recognition, finding a rotten tomato, etc. This ‘narrow AI’ may outperform humans in small tasks but, under righteous usage, it will help improving efficiency, productivity and eliminate errors. Many researchers worry about the ‘General AI’, which can do anything that humans can do and more. It can also cry when reading a sad novel just like humans but it seems a distant reality with the current pace of technology growth. However, we also need some safeguards in approving and building AI technology to protect the ill interests of bad actors. Some of the well-known entrepreneurs are also insisting on the safety aspects of AI. We are indebted to technology as it has helped us to reach this level today and changed the face of our civilization forever. Despite the cyber security issues, the internet has prevailed in the last two decades and I believe any good invention will withstand tough weather with its strong fundamentals.

In my opinion, I will invite the AI with open hands and embrace the change, experience new things, and lend a supporting hand in doing ourselves and the next generation proud. We built houses made of brick walls to protect us from bad weather and invented umbrellas to manage rain. In the same way, we need to come up with novel technologies to protect/safeguard us from threats of AI. Let us encourage the AI teams to solve the challenging problems of our generations. Like many other supporters of AI, I wish to see the positive impact of AI on the planet. (Purely personal views.)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Institute or its employees.