Ideas & Debate

Artificial intelligence and how it affects every day operations


AI used to be an idea of a super-intelligent computer doing god-knows-what on a site in Silicon Valley. AI applications are now present in our day-to-day lives. FILE PHOTO | NMG

With rapid development of innovative technological solutions, Artificial intelligence (AI) has now emerged as a key variant on how data is analysed to inform decisions at corporate and individual levels.

AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Today’s top AI firms are leaders in global business development, as artificial intelligence has grown in importance in the commercial world. This includes top companies such as Tesla, Google, Amazon, Nvidia, IBM, Microsoft, and Alibaba.

AI used to be an idea of a super-intelligent computer doing god-knows-what on a site in Silicon Valley. AI applications are now present in our day-to-day lives.

Every time you open your Twitter newsfeed and see your favourite tweets, perform a Google search, and see a relevant product recommendation, or even open your Gmail app and see irrelevant emails classified as spam, you are interacting with an AI-powered system.

Companies have developed/adopted AI applications to solve problems in various sectors by facilitating quick collection of information and analysis to inform decision-making with a high degree of accuracy compared to relying on human beings.

In healthcare, AI is helping in AI-assisted surgeries, medical data security and processing, AI-enabled virtual healthcare assistants that are reducing unnecessary hospital visits, and AI biotech research that is developing life-saving drugs in a fraction of time and cost. Examples include Corti, Arterys, Enlitic, PathAI, Pager, and Atomwise.

In the ride-hailing services sector, AI companies are enabling autonomous self-driving cars. These vehicles are equipped with sensors that constantly monitor what is going on around them and use AI to make the necessary modifications.

Every millisecond, these sensors gather hundreds of data points (such as auto speed, road conditions, pedestrian location, other vehicles, and so on), and then utilise AI to understand the data and act on it—all in the blink of an eye.

In security, US authorities have hired Gotham, an AI-based platform for analysing data and making mission-critical decisions.

AI applications have helped organisations scale and optimise their customer service tasks. For instance, Salesforce, a customer relationship management firm, uses AI chatbots and automated online assistants to respond to clients, solve refunds, and identify the best employee to handle a unique client.

Google’s customer service AI analyses speech and can tell an angry client from the tone of their language. The AI then responds appropriately.

The biggest and most influential application of AI is in manufacturing. This is because its impact is affecting entire economies, industries, and households. Intelligent machines have become effective sources of labour especially in tasks that are deemed too dangerous, menial, difficult, or repetitive.

In the automotive industry, companies such as Tesla and Toyota are using robots to manufacture cars at record speed, low costs, and optimum efficiency.

Even though AI robots are causing unemployment, organisations have benefited from AI-based predictive maintenance. AI can assess and forecast when a piece of functional equipment will fail and schedule maintenance and repair before that happens.

This saves costs and time taken in manufacturing. Additionally, manufacturing robots learn from their mistakes and improve their own accuracy and performance.

In finance, AI applications have made it easier to process financial market data, assess market trends, and predict price movements. For instance, NumerAI and Cerebellum Capital are AI-based hedge funds that analyse markets and allocate invested funds with little or no human interaction.

AI applications are also being used to estimate credit ratings for persons with little or no credit history. Additionally, banks are using AI applications to monitor fraudulent credit card transactions and money laundering transactions.

AI is also very popular in social media. Firms such as Facebook & Twitter are using it for advert targeting, filtering hateful content and fake news.

Brands are using AI in social media to generate and optimise social media campaigns, figure out what posts get the most engagement using AI-based advanced analytics, decrease social media management time and costs, and manage social media engagements to generate leads.

As a Kenyan, you may not be able to develop an AI application or purchase one but there are several ways that you can benefit from this technological advancement.

On one hand, you can benefit as an AI application end-user such as when searching for a driving route on Google maps as it automatically shows you the shortest route to your destination with estimated arrival time and traffic information.

You can also benefit by subscribing to an AI-based software-as-a-service application. AI applications such as Zendesk, HubSpot, and Salesforce can be used to manage data, accounting, handle customer service, and manage sales leads. This would help your business to leverage AI applications to sell more at lower overheads.

From an investor perspective, you can buy AI stocks and gain portfolio growth as the companies grow.

AI is here to stay, and we have to find a way of leveraging its transformational power to empower our economy, industries, and livelihoods.

Kamau is a research and markets analyst at Scope Markets Kenya. Email: [email protected]