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Future in Focus: The Analysation of AI

Updated: May 25

Sophie Ranson examines AI's transformative impact, from driving advancements in healthcare to improving environmental conservation efforts.

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From job market changes to improvements in environmental and healthcare services, opportunities in artificial intelligence (AI) are rewiring the trajectory of our global society. 


Assistive technologies and education


AI’s advancement in assistive technology has made significant strides in making accessibility and high quality of life possible for all. Assistive technology refers to technology and software, such as wheelchairs and dictation services, which enable people to complete certain tasks that they otherwise may have struggled with. Over one billion people globally rely on such services, and this figure will rocket to 3.5 billion by 2050.

 

disabilities, those with visual impairments for example can now access more proficient text-to-speech technologies. This is ultimately increasing inclusivity in education.

 

But fast-tracking AI into education isn’t a step welcomed by all. Concerns remain over cheating on homework assignments and final exams, with new research revealing that machine learning models perform extremely well in basic operations management, and processing analysis questions. In 2023, ChatGPT scored between a B- and B for a final exam designed for Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.


Did you know? AI could create 38.2 million net new jobs across the global economy offering more skilled occupations as part of this transition.                                                    

Healthcare


AI tools are empowering people to make more informed choices. From fertility cycle trackers to sweat-tracking devices for Diabetes, trackables present monitoring opportunities for individuals to better manage their health. In turn, this generates cost-savings for the economy. For example, healthcare professionals can use trackables to access a greater pool of data to better understand patient ailments, leading to more impactful and preventative care prescription. According to Forbes, AI could achieve annual savings of $7 billion for the US healthcare sector alone.

 

And that’s not the only way AI is impacting medicine. Compared to traditional surgery, robot-assisted procedures are safer and achieve greater accuracy and precision. Patients who receive such procedures are 77% less likely to develop blood clots, spend 20% less time in hospital, and are 52% less likely to be readmitted. 


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Environment 


By 2030, around 4.4% of global CO2 emissions could be avoided thanks to AI technology; that equates to the combined annual emissions of Australia, Canada and Japan combined. But new technology can also deliver bottom line benefits, with environmental applications alone predicted to boost the global economy by 4.4%an additional $5.2 trillion USD.

 

These applications include enhanced environmental monitoring; more sustainable supply chains, and a better balancing of the supply and demand of energy systems, prompting a greater uptake of renewables globally, in parallel with a lower dependence on fossil fuels. AI can also help to reduce waste in energy-intensive sectors, such as agriculture which currently contributes to 22% of global CO2 emissions, and builds more resilient agrifood systems.

 

AI is also playing a growing role in the conservation and monitoring of nature and wildlife. From monitors to tracking software, AI enables the unobtrusive, continuous collection of data on species and biodiversity. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) fisheries in the Pacific Islands deployed acoustic recorders to locate humpback whales. In 2018, the organisation partnered with Google AI to develop a machine learning model that could detect the distinctive humpback whale song.


Since then, NOAA has accumulated approximately 190,000 hours of recordings—a feat not possible without AI. According to NOAA research oceanographer, Ann Allen; “It would take an exorbitant amount of time for an individual to manually identify whale vocalisations.” She told The Guardian, “We also found a new occurrence of humpback song at Kingman reef, a site that never before had documented humpback presence.” This data will now form the basis of developing critical marine protection policies to protect these mammals.


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Human innovation or inhibition?


From writing to acting, ChatGPT’s launch into the world in November 2022 impressed the world with its ability to perform tasks thought only possible with the human touch, from writing poetry, to composing music, and conducting diplomacy. Numerous other machine learning platforms, such as Claude from Anthropic and Gemini from Google, have since launched to compete with the OpenAI chatbot.


In the US, generative AI tasks could automate 10% of tasks across a plethora of industries, prompting nearly 12 million workers to change jobs within the decade. Due to improved productivity and efficiency rates, similar trends are expected globally.


But inaccuracies from AI still occur. That’s why organisation such as McKinsey propose that AI will more likely complement and improve efficiency rates of many existing jobs, versus replacing them entirely.


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The UK government stipulates that some jobs, such as Teaching, are “irreplaceable”. With the creation of 38.2 million net new jobs globally, AI will undoubtedly reshape the job market. But some question its impact on humanity’s ability to creatively tackle new challenges. “Now humanity faces the prospect of an even greater dependence on machines,” according to Greg Rosalsky and Emma Peaslee from NPR. “It's possible we're heading towards a world where an even larger swath of the populace loses their ability to write well. It's a world in which all of our written communication might become like a Hallmark card, written without our own creativity, personality, ideas, emotions, or idiosyncrasies. Call it the Hallmarkisation of everything.”


“Using AI for environmental applications could contribute up to $5.2 trillion USD to the global economy in 2030, a 4.4% increase relative to business as usual.”

 

Conclusion


AI is poised to enhance every aspect of life as we know it. With this major epochal transition, AI is bound to remedy some of humanity’s existing challenges. However, as this technology is developing at an ever-increasing rate, it is also possible that AI will spark new challenges that we cannot predict. Careful consideration, regulation, and ethical deployment of AI are essential to ensure that its benefits are maximised while mitigating potential risks. Regulatory bodies and policymakers must be proactive in addressing these challenges to safeguard societal well-being.

 

 

Researcher: Alexandra Kenney | Editor: Harriet Newcombe | Online Editor: Elena Silvestri

 

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