Artificial intelligence (AI) is a growing part of modern life, both in and out of the office. From virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to self-driving cars, AI has the potential to transform industries and improve our daily lives. And in many ways, it already has.
But asking ChatGPT witty questions or making Google turn off your lights at the end of the day isn’t changing the world. How can we actually benefit from AI?
Let’s explore why AI is important to business, the workplace, and society as a whole.
The Origins of AI
AI has come a long way since computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term in 1955. At its core, AI is the practice of teaching computers to process data, find patterns, and repeat them. This lets computers problem-solve, make decisions, generate content, and perform tasks that otherwise require human intelligence.
Over the years, AI has evolved to include several different subfields — like machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), natural language processing (NLP), and computer vision — that work together. DL, for instance, is a subfield of ML that uses artificial neural networks to help computers learn advanced details like humans can.
You’ve probably already heard of NLP, even if you’re not familiar with the term. NLP draws upon text databases to train AI systems so they can accept natural language inputs and generate human-like text — think chatbots, AI translation tools, and AI writing tools like Notion AI. These tools automate low-level tasks and support human workers.
How AI can help us do more
One of the most significant benefits of AI is that it can automate simpler processes that previously required human intervention -- anything from predicting traffic patterns to improving medical diagnostics. Using AI to perform these tasks boosts efficiency, reduces costs, and increases consistency across the board. And since AI can analyze large amounts of data in a tiny fraction of the time the same task would take a human being, these technologies can provide insights that would otherwise take years of study.
The benefits of AI could extend across a wide range of industries, including:
Transportation — AI specialists are already testing out self-driving cars and trucks that rely on computer vision, DL, and neural networks. These machines have the potential to reduce accidents, traffic congestion, and fuel consumption while revolutionizing the idea of car ownership. And autonomous buses and trains could complement or fill the need for public transportation.
Healthcare — doctors and nurses are highly trained, but they’re still human. Some see hundreds of patients in one day and only have a few moments to familiarize themselves with their data, so it’s easy to miss important details and make mistakes. AI can support healthcare systems by analyzing patient data, suggesting personalized care, and improving medical diagnoses and treatments.
Manufacturing — robots and other AI-powered machines can take on repetitive or dangerous tasks, freeing up human workers for more complex creative work. AI can also aid predictive maintenance, quality control, and supply chain optimization.
Education — AI tools can transform education by creating and administering personalized learning experiences. Teachers can use AI to analyze student data faster and adjust education methods to meet individual needs.
3 use cases for AI
Though AI is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, it’s already had profound impacts. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and make informed decisions, it helps individuals and organizations alike streamline their operations, reduce costs, and enhance customer experiences.
These are pretty abstract concepts, so let’s dive into three specific use cases for AI: fraud detection, virtual customer assistance, and predictive maintenance.
Financial institutions, insurance companies, and e-commerce platforms all need to prevent deception on a day-to-day basis — a high-risk task that can get complicated. This is where AI fraud detection systems come in. These tools detect and prevent fraud in real time by analyzing customer datasets, identifying patterns and anomalies, and flagging suspicious activities. AI systems can also learn from past fraudulent activities and continuously improve their accuracy.
Virtual customer assistance
You’ve probably seen (and started a conversation with) chatbot buttons on e-commerce and other websites. It might feel like you’re talking to a real person. They’ve got a personality, language quirks, and all the information you need. But they’re relying on large amounts of data to answer your questions and talk to you like a real customer rep.
AI-powered chatbots, also known as conversational AIs, can triage support requests, answer customer queries, and create tickets to alert the support team if the customer needs human assistance. They take the burden off of support staff when problems are easy to solve, saving time and letting human employees handle bigger issues.
Industrial equipment and machinery need regular maintenance to perform at their best and avoid breakdowns, but checking them manually is time-consuming. With AI-powered predictive maintenance, sensors collect real-time data on the equipment's performance. Then AI algorithms analyze this data to identify potential issues before they occur. This lets companies schedule maintenance proactively and avoid costly repairs or accidents.
3 advantages and disadvantages of AI for businesses
While AI offers myriad benefits for any type of business, it also has some drawbacks. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of AI.
Here are the pros:
Make more data-driven decisions — AI algorithms analyze big data and provide valuable insights. Identify the patterns, trends, and opportunities you might otherwise miss.
Optimize business operations — AI automates and streamlines inventory management, customer service, and supply chain management.
Enhance products — incorporate AI into your product designs, like smart home devices that learn users' preferences and adjust settings automatically.
And here are the cons:
AI tech can be expensive — if you want to use a specific AI tool, or more than one, for a large group, it could cost you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month.
Some AI takes expertise — while AI tools can be user-friendly, like Notion AI, other AI solutions like OpenAI’s ChatGPT-3 require complex API integration.
Can lead to bias — algorithms are only as unbiased as the data used to train them. If the data you use to train AI is biased, discriminatory, or incomplete, the algorithm may produce unfair or untrue results.
Why is AI important for the future?
Industries ranging from healthcare to manufacturing already incorporate AI into their workflows. And it’s quickly seeping into our personal lives, whether that’s via face filters and translation apps or as part of our day-to-day jobs.
As machines continue to learn and grow, we could be approaching a point that computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil calls “the singularity.” This is a hypothetical moment at which machines will surpass human intelligence. While some experts predict that the singularity could happen in the next few decades, others remain skeptical. There are complex technical challenges before it, and it’s impossible to know for sure whether machines will ever overcome them.
As we continue to explore the possibilities of AI, we need to view it as a tool while recognizing potential threats.
AI isn’t just the future. It’s the here and now
AI is already making profound impacts on both our personal and professional lives. It helps us automate low-level tasks and create blueprints for high-quality human work, from copywriting to codebases.
That’s why we’ve integrated Notion AI into our powerful productivity workspace. Do more with your documents, blogs, and databases. You can create real estate listings, write bedtime stories, produce meeting summaries, and more.
Try Notion AI, and power your future today.