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How is AI impacting the way businesses operate?
Professor Andy Pardoe
Soon we will have a fully autonomous, AI-driven corporation, with no human intervention or oversight. Maybe this will be the future of Amazon. This could also be the future of smaller businesses, acting as a profit generation for the owners (providing passive income), with little or no need for day-to-day involvement. Imagine a world, where all commercial activities are fully automated and autonomous. From product development and innovation to supply-chain and customer support. This vision is not fantasy, it will become reality in the near future.
Other technologies are also helping to make this possible. The blockchain, smart contracts and DAO (Distributed Automated Organisations) are creating the foundation for the governance and administration of these types of automated organisations.
Image a world where the entire process, from product design to manufacturing, is fully controlled by AI and actioned by robots. Even the maintenance of the robots uses predictive algorithms to determine when machinery needs to be taken out of the production line to be serviced. The servicing would be done by other robots too.
Once the products roll off the production line, they enter a fully automated supply chain that has taken the order from the customer. It will then not only deliver the product to the front door of that customer, but also interface with a home help robot to receive the parcel, unpack it, and put it in the correct location in the home. All these done with zero interaction with a human. Moreover, the customer's need for the product could be predicted by AI so the order is placed automatically to ensure that the product is available when the customer wants it.
While all of this sounds like a perfect utopian world, it has some significant implications. The majority of humanity will no longer need to work for a living. They can dedicate themselves to self-improvement and indulgent activities. Relying on machines and AI to look after us, might sound idyllic, however, ultimately this might be our downfall. Many futurists are worried that this particular future for humanity could cause our extinction, as depicted in a number of films on the topic.
We will need to find balance here so that we gain the benefits of having the machinery and applications in place to make both our businesses and individual lives run more efficiently, but without sacrificing our knowledge and capabilities to control and manage these systems.
Ultimately these technologies will help businesses become more automated and efficient, however, there should always be a layer of humans in the loop for these organisations, making the ultimate decisions, guiding the evolution of new products and services designed, as well as ensuring we have the appropriate level of human governance as the business evolves.
The challenge here is what AI does for the human workplace. What skills and knowledge will employees in the 22nd century need? Will we move from a 5-day working week to a 4 and 3-day working week? Remote working is most likely going to be the norm. Humans will provide more oversight and approval to suggestions coming from the data analytics of AI and machine learning.