Renowned theoretical physicist and futurist Steven Hawking was torn on the value of artificial intelligence. At one point, he said, “AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We don’t know if we will be helped by AI … or conceivably destroyed by it.”
But just before his death earlier this year, Hawking appeared to change his AI calculus: “Perhaps we should all stop for a moment, and focus not only on making our AI better, but also (focus) on the benefit to humanity.”
There, in a nutshell, from one of the most brilliant minds of the century is the AI conundrum. Is it, as Tesla founder Elon Musk said, “more dangerous than nuclear weapons?” Or is it more likely to “inject more pride and dignity into work focused on enhancing our communities,” as suggested by author and former president of Google China Kai-Fu-Lee?
AI and human potential by the numbers
Recent data strongly weighs in favor of AI’s massive capabilities to boost human potential and fundamentally change the nature of work in ways not seen since the Industrial Revolution and the invention of electricity. These data are further bolstered by the experiences of early users of AI platforms, showcased at Inforum 2018 this week in Washington, DC.
- A recent study from PwC found that two-thirds (67%) of executives believe AI will help humans and machines work together to be stronger by using both artificial and human intelligence.
- Another PWC study found that by 2030, advances in AI will add an astonishing $15.7 trillion to the global economy, while boosting the gross domestic product of local economies by 26%.
- Accenture, whose research finds that a full 85% of business and IT executives anticipate making significant investments in one or more AI-related technologies by 2020, also concludes that organizations “will use AI to amplify human existence and improve how we live and work.”