Gartner claims people are warming to AI

The power of artificial intelligence is unquestionable, but what remains unknown is how long it will take for the technologies to be considered mainstream. Are people afraid of the power of AI?

With every technological breakthrough it takes a considerable amount of time for mainstream adoption. There are of course early adopters who will reap the benefits of AI, but bell curves exist for a reason; the vast majority will be slow to react, scared of the unknown, resistant to any form of change or dismissive of the benefits. Despite this pretty much being an inevitability, Gartner is confident adoption is going pretty well.

“Four years ago, AI implementation was rare, only 10% of survey respondents reported that their enterprises had deployed AI or would do so shortly,” said Chris Howard of Gartner. “For 2019, that number has leapt to 37% – a 270% increase in four years. “If you are a CIO and your organization doesn’t use AI, chances are high that your competitors do, and this should be a concern.

“We still remain far from general AI that can wholly take over complex tasks, but we have now entered the realm of AI-augmented work and decision science – what we call ‘augmented intelligence’.”

This is where some of the biggest benefits can be realised according to Gartner. With a continued shortage of IT skills (and also in some niche/highly qualified professions) throughout the world, AI can be introduced to ensure the chasm of ability does not negatively impact revenues. How this idea has been implemented across the ecosystem does seem to vary quite considerably.

The research indicates 52% of telcos have deployed chatbots to assist with customer service operations, while 38% of healthcare providers rely on computer-assisted diagnostics. Fraud detection and IT security are other areas which have seen AI implementation, while the breadth of services will only increase across 2019. With the smart home, and smart speakers in particular, becoming increasingly normalized in the eyes of the consumer, this looks like a blossoming space.

Interestingly enough, today also marks the day the UK Office of National Statistics unveiled employment numbers for the year. The number of people now employed in the UK has reached an all-time high of 32.54 million, while the number of job vacancies rose by 10,000 to a record 853,000. Although the early adopters, those with extraordinary technology ambitions, will focus on the added value benefits of AI there will of course be those who use such a breakthrough to reduce headcount.

This is the reality of AI which we will have to meet head on. Jobs will be replaced by automation and software, people’s livelihoods will be made redundant, unless retraining is offered. But, for retraining to be a realistic ambition first there has to be an acceptance of the negative consequences of AI.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be incredibly painful for some, but industry and politicians don’t seem to want to admit this, instead just focusing on the benefits. Every Industrial Revolution has been painful for those who have not adapted for the future, but somehow the rhetoric seems to be this one will be different. Putting PR spin on the issue will not help in the long-run, we need to be realistic.

AI is going to take over the world, just not the way you think

New estimates from Gartner put the total business value derived from artificial intelligence at $1.2 trillion in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 70%, before booming to $3.9 trillion in 2022.

The rise of AI in the business world has been well documented, though the real-world impact might not have been noticed by everyone. Technology companies are experts at incrementally feeding us progress to ease the transition to normality, therefore these figures might come as a shock to some. AI sounds incredibly futuristic, but according to Gartner, it is here.

“AI promises to be the most disruptive class of technologies during the next 10 years due to advances in computational power, volume, velocity and variety of data, as well as advances in deep neural networks (DNNs),” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.

“One of the biggest aggregate sources for AI-enhanced products and services acquired by enterprises between 2017 and 2022 will be niche solutions that address one need very well. Business executives will drive investment in these products, sourced from thousands of narrowly focused, specialist suppliers with specific AI-enhanced applications.”

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Business Value 692 1,175 1,901 2,649 3,346 3,923
Growth (y-o-y) N/A 70% 62% 39% 26% 17%

Forecast of Global AI-Derived Business Value (Billions of US Dollars)

We’ve already seen the first signs of AI when it comes to the digital economy and targeted advertising. Although this might be simple in comparison to the usecases of tomorrow, it has already driven incredible value for the technology community. Just ask the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon, all of whom have profited off advanced data science, predictive analytics and machine learning. It is by no means perfect, but the first steps never are.

Looking specifically at the telco space, machine learning and rule-based automation technologies are starting to appear in the way networks are managed, while AI is becoming a hot-topic when it comes to customer service and experience. Vodafone is one company which has been leading the way through the introduction of AI into customer interactions, TOBi, though this is a trend which will become much more common over the coming years and months. This will only be the start however.

Looking at the areas where AI will contribute in the future, Gartner predicts decision support/augmentation (such as DNNs) will represent 36% of the global AI-derived business value in 2018, a figure which will increase to 44% by 2022. Virtual agents, such as in customer services, account for 46% of the global AI-derived business value in 2018 and 26% by 2022, by which time other usecases will begin to mature.

Automated tasks and optimising business processes is one which might worry those in the workplace, but for those organizations which are feeling the pinch of lower profitability, these trends cannot emerge soon enough. This is an area which is potentially very contentious and damaging to society on the whole, as this is when we start talking about redundancies. Translating voice to text and vice versa, processing handwritten forms or images, and classifying other rich data content not readily accessible to conventional systems, could make numerous low-skilled worker redundant. Gartner predicts this area of AI could grow to 16% of all business value derived from AI in 2022, up from 2% today.

Don’t expect a violent rebellion of AI driven machines, they will just make us all unemployed. It’s more of a white-collar, middle-class uprising.