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5 Industries Being Most Affected By Artificial Intelligence

(Photo: IBM's Watson Headquarters)

It may read like something out of a science fiction novel, but a world full of robots and artificial intelligence is not right around the corner, it's here. In fact, in many industries, it is an everyday reality.

The pace of artificial intelligence development is staggering—Google estimates robots will reach levels of human intelligence by 2029, and IT research firm Gartner estimates that by 2025, one-third of jobs will be replaced by robots and smart machines. But before you start panicking, most experts predict that artificial intelligence will mostly introduce new jobs and augment existing jobs instead of replace current positions. No matter the outlook, the future is clear: artificial intelligence is performing jobs and tasks around us, and will continue to play a growing role in most people's lives over the next few decades.

At The FOW Community's recent Future of Work Forum in New York City, our members and myself were fortunate to receive a private tour of IBM's Watson Headquarters in Silicon Alley. A demonstration of Watson showed us its ability to sift through 27 millions pages of structured and unstructured data fed it to support healthcare decisions that lead to better outcomes.

Healthcare, among others, is affected by artificial intelligence more than others—here are the five areas largely being impacted:

  1. Healthcare. Major medical and pharmaceutical companies are already harnessing the power of artificial intelligence with great results. Johnson and Johnson's Sedasys system has received FDA approval to automatically deliver anesthesia for standard procedures like colonoscopies. A doctor oversees multiple machines at once, making the cost much less than a dedicated human anesthesiologist. There are also numerous robots in various stages of testing and approval for diagnosing disease. In some cases, such as with IBM's Watson, these machines have a higher accuracy rate for diagnoses than human doctors, as mentioned earlier.
  2. Manufacturing. Manufacturing was one of the first industries to harness artificial intelligence by using robots to assemble products and package them for shipment. New robotic developments will take things to the next level by being able to assemble more complicated items, such as electronics, cars, and even some homes. Although many artificial intelligence-driven production lines will still need human support and supervision, we are headed towards a largely robotic manufacturing industry.
  3. Transportation. One of the most populous industries is also one of the most at risk to be replaced by artificial intelligence. The technology behind self-driving cars can be applied to public transportation, delivery drivers, and more, decreasing the risk of accidents, alleviating traffic congestion, and lowering energy costs. Self-driving cars are in testing and early production from companies like Google, Tesla, and Uber; personal self-driving cars are expected to be on the market by 2018, with commercial applications not far behind. And while transportation workers may need to look elsewhere for work, Morgan Stanley predicts that driverless cars will save the U.S. $1.3 trillion a year by 2035 to 2050, for a global annual saving of $5.6 trillion.
  4. Customer Service. Thanks to developments in personalization and human interaction, artificial intelligence is more efficient than ever in customer service. A leader in automated customer service is DigitalGenius, which helps companies automate basic text question and answer chats with customers and even harnesses natural language processing and machine learning to create reactionary, friendly robots that mimic human speech patterns to provide service that is quick and easy for consumers and much less expensive for companies.
  5. Finance. With a rapidly increasing amount of financial data, many financial services companies are turning to artificial intelligence to keep up with demand. Robots can use predictive systems and market data to forecast stock trends and manage finances, often much quicker than their human counterparts. Even financial advice is becoming automated, with a growing trend towards “robo-advisers" that automatically dispense advice and suggestions to financial clients, especially those with relatively simple financial problems. Robots can use a variety of algorithms to provide recommendations that best meet clients' spending, saving, and investment habits.

Workers and consumers of these industries will no doubt see big changes in the coming years and decades. By forecasting and planning for artificial intelligence growth, companies and customers alike should be able to make the robotic transition as smooth as possible.

What are things that companies and individuals can do to continue to co-exist, grow and thrive with robots?

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