Does Artificial Intelligence Guarantee an Increase in Productivity?


For years now, the world has been waiting for the true implementation of artificial intelligence. AI has been a popular concept for over a century, with the possibilities floating around since the first steps were made towards the technological levels we have now. However, it is only now that the actual possibilities of AI, albeit a somewhat limited AI, are being realised. We need to first understand exactly what the current incarnations of AI entail, their capabilities and limitations. From there, we can extrapolate the effects they may have one:

  • Manufacturing
  • Analysis
  • Management

AI Is Already Pushing Major Innovations

The popular science fiction idea of a robot walking around carrying tasks for us is, to some extent, being realised. For instance, in Japan, more and more money and effort are being put into using AI as a solution for looking after an ever-growing ageing population. However, despite a few exceptions such as this, the vast majority of AI innovation is taking place in a more functional environment. As it stands, the key limiting factors on AI implementation in the workplace (for instance, logistics or manufacturing) are sensory abilities and data processing. For instance, within manufacturing, AI is only effective if it can continually monitor ongoing processes, and understand what is happening. If AI is implemented on an assembly line in order to carry out quality control, for example, it will need to not only be able to quickly absorb information, it will also need to study and act on that information immediately. In many cases, this is not an issue. The standards of AI technology currently being put out are high enough that we are seeing plenty of people faced with the possibility of losing their jobs to a robot. While some kinds of highly skilled workers are always going to require a human input, factory line production has been set up in order to make the entire process of putting together a product as straightforward as possible. Complete automation would essentially represent the ultimate refinement of Henry Ford’s dream.

Already We Have Seen a Death from AI Failure

So much for actual physical work such as factory automation. It’s no surprise that this industry is finding a huge amount of use for AI. These have never been jobs which required anything more than the absolute barest minimum of input from their workers. Logistics and transport are tipped to find an ever-increasing use for AI. That said, we have already seen the first death attributed to a driverless car, very soon after the vehicles actually started appearing on our roads. There’s a limit to how far we can say this means that driverless AI is a waste of our time and resources. After all, how many people die worldwide from driver errors every year? However, the death did mark an inevitable point where this technology went from being the future to being part of a troubled presence. There is a tendency that, as soon as AI (or any other tech for that matter) goes from being speculative to real, the actual difficulties and shortcomings become immediately clear.

AI Analytics Are Shaping the World Around Us

As it stands, probably the majority of effective uses found for AI exist within computer programs such as big analytics. In today’s world, it is clear that a mastery of the internet is almost more important than any kind of production advantage. Analytical tools have demonstrated time and again their usefulness in turning confusing blocks of data into easily understandable trends. Sadly, a large part of this information is simply being used to find ever more effective ways of manipulating consumers into spending their money. And another major question mark hangs over the real effectiveness of this technology in increasing productivity: who has the capacity to use it? For instance, correct analysis of data would allow a government to work out ever more effective ways of boosting the productivity of their citizens. However, do they really have the right to make use of opaque methods to push us to their desired will? It’s bad enough being aware that marketing tactics, known only to a few, are being used on our day in and day out to influence our choices. Most people would not feel especially happy knowing that government agencies are making use of the same technology.

AI is definitely here. However, it still remains to be seen just how much it is set to boost our productivity. More and more businesses and agencies are set to start making use of it. But it will be some time before we know for sure just how much of an effect it can have in boosting our productivity.

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