AI is here, but do we understand it? Source: Shutterstock

Do we understand the real potential of AI?

WE have all heard of what artificial intelligence (AI) might do for businesses in the region, but when we think of it, we think of the end-state that’s been put in our minds by science fiction movies: AI controls the world and everything in it.

However, how many companies today really use AI or are developing systems that truly automate jobs and provide predictive insights? Not too many.

According to a new report by FleishmanHillard, companies still don’t know much about the technology.

The public, too, is less certain about whether AI is currently impacting our working lives. While 49 percent of those surveyed agree that AI and automation will change the way we work, only 31 percent feel that they had already seen the benefits, while 40 percent had not seen a difference.

FleishmanHillard Southeast Asia’s Senior Vice President Shafaat Hussain told Tech Wire Asia:

“When it comes to any discussion on AI, or emerging technology for that matter, there is a simple statement that was made by Roy Charles Amara, an American researcher and scientist which is very relevant. His view was that ‘We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run’.

“I find this statement to be very appropriate and think that at the moment, we are perhaps, in the phase of overestimating the effect of AI. This is collaborated by the findings of our study which found that there is a lack of understanding on AI.

“This abstruseness when combined with the over-emphasis by sensationalists on potential outcomes such as how AI will impact mainstream jobs and drive unemployment is creating a biased view in some cases and undermining the huge productivity gains AI will bring to individuals and society as a whole.”

The report found that there’s much positivity around AI’s potential with nearly half (45 percent) of respondents either agreeing, or strongly agreeing, that the positive aspects of AI outweigh the negatives.

However, although AI is just starting to build momentum, more than half of global consumers (56 percent) already say that it needs more regulation and restrictions.

About 53 percent of respondents say they believe that education about the role of AI in society needs to improve, while 49 percent of respondents agree that AI is an exciting and exhilarating topic and that automation will change our lives and jobs for the better.

“While AI will certainly change the labor landscape, it will not necessarily be all in one direction. Just like many other major advances in technology, AI will create new roles in society as well as change existing ones,” concluded Joseph Reger, CTO EMEIA, Fujitsu.

The answer is simple: While we have the talent to develop AI, end users need more help imagining how it can transform existing business practices and processes.