Why is AI so hot right now?
AI is a hot topic these days, thanks to two of its most formidable and popular applications—ChatGPT and search-AI.
Everyone’s talking about ChatGPT, an AI chatbot based on the Generative Pre-Trained Transformer language model made publicly available at the end of 2022. ChatGPT is a convenient interface that allows users to ask questions and obtain AI-generated answers in natural language.
Although ChatGPT’s results are impressive, its underlying natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) capabilities are not new. What is new is that ChatGPT is now available to everyone, and the quality of its responses has become much better due to the ever-growing data set available to it. There’s no doubt that AI will disrupt many areas of our lives with its easy user interface and ubiquitous availability.
Search engines have been around for decades. They will soon be transformed by the next big search technology—search-AI—which will make classic search engines look positively antique. While search engines merely give us a list of URLs, search-AI will immediately provide us with information relevant to our search query. In other words, search-AI will filter and summarize the data for us, rather than doing it ourselves. Microsoft and Google are vying intensely to dominate the search-AI market as end users will become even more dependent on the company that dominates the search-AI market.
What else can we do with AI?
Chatbots and search-AI are just two of many AI use cases; it can be embedded into all manner of products and services. We are just beginning to understand how AI can reshape the way we see the world and how we can exploit its full potential in a wide variety of industries and societal fields.
AI and societal megatrends
My co-author, Professor Daniela Haluza of the Medical University of Vienna and I recently concluded a scientific study and the resulting article, “Artificial Intelligence and Ten Societal Megatrends: An Exploratory Study Using GPT-3,“. Published in the peer-reviewed MDPI journal Systems, the study used OpenAI's Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), a more powerful version of ChatGPT, to analyze AI’s potential for contributing to and re-shaping societal megatrends. Megatrends are long-term, large-scale patterns of change with significant global impact that influence the emergence of new technologies, change the way we interact and shift distribution of resources and wealth.
By recognizing global megatrends, individuals, organizations and governments can better anticipate and adapt to social and political changes. Identification of global megatrends is crucial in understanding the current state and future direction of society, allowing us to make informed decisions and take proactive measures to mitigate potential negative impacts and capitalize on opportunities.
Exploratory research, as leveraged in our beforementioned article, is commonly employed to study an issue that lacks a clear definition. It aims at gaining a more comprehensive view of an issue but does not attempt to yield definitive conclusions. The study identified 10 megatrends—positive changes such as digitalization, automation, mobility and emerging markets as well as challenges such as urbanization, globalization, climate change, global health, the aging population and sustainability.
By analyzing the ways that AI can contribute to opportunities and solve challenges these megatrends present, the study shows that AI GPT-3 can offer better insights into these complex and cross-domain issues and deliver actionable use cases for positive outcomes. In addition, AI GPT-3 can help us understand how these issues will evolve over time. Of course, further research is required, but in this first blog post of my series I’ll show you how AI can help us capitalize on the first megatrend—digitalization.
Digitalization requires AI
Digitalization, the process of transforming information into a digital form, makes data easier to store, access and analyze. It has steadily gained traction as the world increasingly relies on technology.
Let’s look at the evolution of digitalization. Initially, digital transformation denoted using agile practices for software development. In the next stage, we applied agile and lean methodologies to respond to both IT and wider business challenges with, for example, business retrospectives that incorporated feedback from all stakeholders. Ideally, the entire enterprise became agile, sensing market needs faster and more iteratively and mapping to agile delivery. Pushing the fast forward button to today, digitalization has expanded further, from transforming organizations to transforming society as a whole.
With the digitalization megatrend comes the potential to leverage AI to make digitalization more efficient and effective. By processing and analyzing large amounts of data quickly and accurately, AI GPT-3 supports identification, interpretation and organization of patterns in data sets, which can be used to inform decision-making for digitalization as well as across all ten megatrends. In fact, AI GPT-3 can make autonomous and instantaneous decisions for us, dramatically reducing the time and resources needed for all sorts of transactions
Here are some specific use cases for AI-driven digitalization
Improve the efficiency and accuracy of digital workflows Automate tedious manual tasks Automate processes such as customer service Improve security by:
Automating security processes
Detecting data anomalies that can identify and prevent malicious activity
Providing predictive analysis that allows organizations to better anticipate potential security threats and respond quickly
Improve user experience by providing more intelligent, personalized and interactive experiences Provide new insights into customer/constituent behavior
The other side of the coin
Even considering these positive outcomes, AI can be both a blessing and a curse for societal megatrends. The study acknowledges that while AI systems are becoming more sophisticated, they are not yet infallible. They can still make mistakes, produce incorrect results or lead to even more challenges.
While AI can help us better understand and tackle social issues, it also introduces risks such as unintended harm, job losses, security and privacy exposure, increasing social inequality and new biases—such as algorithmic biases or learned biased behavior—potentially resulting in unfair decisions or perpetuating gender or race inequalities.
Decisions made using AI may not always reflect the values of society as a whole, leading to outcomes that might not be in line with public opinion or ethical standards. Another risk is that powerful entities or malicious actors could use AI for their own gain by manipulating algorithms or data sets.
In today’s rapidly evolving world, creating strategic plans and adapting to ever-changing trends can’t be a one-time exercise; it must be a continuous process of monitoring, testing, assessing, implementing and learning. By helping us continuously improve, AI will transform our collective future, but make no mistake: It is here now, and we would be wise to leverage its benefits to reduce risks and potential harm—starting today.
Given our working experience with machine learning and AI in automation and operational contexts, we view AI GPT-3 as a valuable tool that offers time-saving benefits through user-friendly design and an accessible interface. However, AI GPT-3 is most beneficial for experienced and technologically savvy researchers. We recommend providing precise, context-rich questions to yield the most useful answers. When researching these megatrends more specific, users then need to review, cross-check and discuss answers with human experts. They also are still required to review the scientific literature and verify references, both vital parts of good scientific practice.
Generative AI is a “language”, and as with any language, it needs to be used well to work well. The study concludes that universal AI literacy training is necessary—in schools, industry and government—for us to benefit from AI’s opportunities, avoid AI’s risks, and make AI’s huge potential a major contributor to positive global change.
Anyone interested in learning more about AI and its potential influence on the other megatrends is invited to read the full study here or get in contact with me. This article is the first one in a series about scientific AI research applied to real life. Stay tuned for more blog posts addressing AI’s potential contributions to other areas.
David Jungwirth leads the Digital Advisory practice at Enterprise Studio by HCLTech and thrives on rapidly producing positive customer outcomes with cutting-edge technologies. He and Professor Daniela Haluza of the Medical University of Vienna conducted the study, which is available in the peer-reviewed MDPI top journal Systems. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems11030120