From driving our cars, to making phone calls and assisting in the diagnosis of cancer – artificial intelligence is revolutionising how we live our lives. Away from headline-grabbing tech advances, we’re already constantly interacting with AI. Traffic control in cities, dating websites, facial recognition, through to decisions on employment and credit even to what we choose to read, watch and listen to – intelligent machines are all around us. So what are the implications of this radical technology? How will AI continue to shape our lives, and what should we be doing to prepare for it?
Outside of science fiction, AI tends to be quite specific in what it can do. You’ll usually find it working away, invisible in the background, utilising algorithms to process data and quickly accomplish specific tasks. These tasks can include anything, such as recognising speech or analysing patterns of behaviour (you’ve probably seen a lot in the news about that recently involving Cambridge Analytica).
In business especially, AI is making huge changes, taking on the drudgery of mundane tasks and completing them fast and efficiently. 84% of surveyed businesses believe AI will enable them to obtain a competitive advantage. You’ll find it throughout businesses enhancing performance, optimising operations and external processes (like marketing and sales) and freeing up humans to focus on more creative tasks. Today AI is predominantly focused on managing, monitoring and moving things that already exist.
So what’s next?
Whether it’s deterring terrorism or managing climate change, AI is set to be at the heart of the ‘big issues’. It’s going to have a huge economic impact (an estimated boost of 14% to global GDP by 2030, that’s about £12.25 trillion). And we’ll soon see AI woven into every aspect of our lives including jackets that connect to the internet and smart tattoos that control your phone and monitor your health.
When it comes to business, AI is already making the move from managing what exists to outright creation. Will machines evolve to take those more interesting, creative tasks as well as the mundane ones? We already have machines that can create art, write prose and compose music (you’ll likely have already heard some of that in adverts). They’re pretty good and we’re really only at the very start of this wave of technology. Creativity may well turn out to just be an engineering problem. Across industries, CEOs are already wrestling with the balance between humans and increasingly cost-effective artificial intelligence.
In our industry especially, automation and machine learning are set to change the face of accounting. It won’t be long until many of the tasks that took up our accountants’ and clients’ time can be completed with limited input by machines.
Time to embrace our new robot overlords?
It’s a cliché, but while change can be disconcerting it also provides massive opportunities for growth and development. AI will be instrumental to solving some of the world’s biggest problems, improving global communication, building innovative business and shaping our day to day living. Adapting to new technology is a stanard part of most of our lives now and AI won’t be any different. For small businesses especially, free of weighty infrastructure and bureaucracy, AI can provide a significant competitive edge.
Here at inniAccounts, we’re embracing the opportunities AI is offering us. Reducing bottlenecks, making systems that enable our clients to effortlessly manage their accounts and freeing up time for our employees so they can focus on the (for now at least) more human aspects of our business; innovation, personalised service and expert problem solving. For us (and we suspect for many successful businesses embracing the AI revolution) it’s less about man vs machine and more about how we can combine the two to make a better service for our clients and a better workplace for our employees. Even as AI catches up to more creative-centric tasks, we know there will always be room for humans to advance our business alongside it.
While we’re enthusiastically adopting AI into our lives and businesses, it’s worth keeping a levelled eye on the horizon. Science has a way of spanning quickly beyond our original intentions; we don’t necessarily know where developments in AI will eventually lead us. Perhaps now is the time to be engaging in discussions on AI ethics and the implications of what advanced technology will mean for both our society and businesses as a whole. With the right preparation, AI could well push us into a new golden age of productivity, prosperity and personalisation.