They say that life is always changing, but have any major changes really taken place over the last 10 years? I now spend more hours commuting in traffic than I did ten years ago. Our century-old education system still has not strayed from its factory-like model of one-to-many teaching approaches. In health, there continues to be more patients than our healthcare infrastructure can support. Banks are essentially the same as they’ve always been. Society as a whole continues to exist in the same types of houses, while working at the same types of jobs, and travelling by the same means of transportation—cars, trains, and airplanes. So, aside from my longer work commute, pretty much everything else significant hasn't changed for better or worse over the last 10 years.
Hang on, I am not really a pessimist. In reality, a lot of things have changed in the last 10 years. For example, today we can buy almost everything, from groceries to smartphones, online. We don’t have to own a car anymore (unless it is a status symbol for you), thanks to ride-hailing companies. We can now hold any company accountable on Twitter and our voices are heard. We can decide what we want to watch on TV and when we want to watch it, and we can preview the things that we want to buy, the places we want to visit, and the food we want to eat. Artificial intelligence is at the heart of these consumer-based changes, and while it may have helped us feel more empowered over the last 10 years, we haven’t progressed much to address the real-world problems:
- One-quarter of all humans worldwide live without electricity
- 10% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to medical errors
- 92% of the global population live in places where air pollution exceeds set limits
- 1.8 billion people worldwide do not have a water source in their home
As AI moves into each and every aspect of our lives, we are increasingly lured by the giant, metaphorical pot of gold at the end of the AI rainbow: Governments hope that AI technologies will help them address decades-long social and economic issues; Business leaders hope that AI will generate their next big growth; Educators hope using AI will help them redefine learning; and security professionals hope AI will help them win the cybersecurity battle. Similarly, drug makers and tech companies are investing billions of dollars in AI, hoping that it will make the drug discovery process faster and cheaper. And we all hope AI will eventually play a role in re-humanizing work, workers and the workplace.
So, now that we have nailed-down our dreams about an AI-driven salvation, all we can do is hope that future AI technologies live up to our expectations. Unfortunately, when the stakes are high, the potential for disappointment is intense. There’s a lot of playing field between the reality of today and what lies ahead, and there’s a lot of groundwork and preparation involved to ensure we are ready to play. Whether it’s retraining people, reimagining skills, reinventing the technological infrastructure, or reestablishing trust among workers and AI-machines, the truth is, none of it is going to be easy. AI hopes, dreams, and failures will soon be the new normal, and as the pace of change accelerates, I hope all your AI hopes (and dreams) come true!