Five areas AI can have the greatest impact

27 September 2021

By Jochem Hummel, Isabel Fischer, Ram Gopal and Zhewei Zhang

A survey of CEOs found that 83 per cent believed AI was a strategic priority for their business.

Indeed, the Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review 2017 study, Reshaping Business With Artificial Intelligence, discovered that 84 per cent of CEOs believe AI will give them a competitive advantage.

But AI is not just having an impact on companies' bottom line, it is having a profound affect on how we live and is central to how we build a better society.

The power of AI is pervading every organisation and every function of an organisation, from human resources to finance and marketing. Indeed. according to research firm IDC, global spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence systems will reach $57.6 billion in 2021, while another research company, Markets and Markets predicts the AI industry will be worth $309.6 billion by 2026.

AI is not just big business but big news as it looks set to tackle the world's biggest issues. We take a look at the five areas where AI can have the biggest impact for the human race in the coming decade.

 

1 Limiting climate change

AI can be used to study the effects of climate change and of air pollution as well as their interplay. Images can be clustered, ie grouped by similarities and differences, by AI to predict and prevent future deterioration up to a certain degree.

There are many other attempts to leverage AI to limit the impact of climate change, for example to encourage Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, by using the technology through the portfolio selection in pension funds.

2 Revolutionising healthcare

AI has the potential to be truly transformative in healthcare provision as it has proven effective in tackling longstanding problems in the industry.

There is increasing evidence and case studies which point to AI lowering the cost of care provision, improving patient experiences, and enhancing care outcomes for patients.

Physicians are turning to AI to provide decision support for critical care and intervention decisions and are able to devote more time and attention to patients.

As the recent pandemic has revealed, AI has proven effective in speeding up the process of drug discovery and this points to a future with accelerated AI-driven innovations in the healthcare industry.

 

3 Making legal support cheaper and accessible

In our study on the use of AI in litigation we have found that machine learning improves lawyers' case preparation.

The AI tool, which was developed in collaboration with lawyers, turned out to be particularly good at pointing lawyers to relevant information in prior judgements.

AI thus increases the efficiency of lawyers, which will see the number of hours lawyers' bill people reduced, making it cheaper and more accessible

 

4 Democratising education

Tackling inequality in education has always been difficult and AI is certainly not yet a panacea, but it has the potential to provide students ‘augmented’ personalised education at scale.

Plagiarism checking systems that use AI are already in place across most universities, while the technology has started to reshape provisions for special educational needs with AI-powered chatbots now providing a 24/7 instant support system to many students.

Progress in education is in many cases cautious to ensure adherence to ethical frameworks and there is also perhaps not enough regulation to ensure fairness on a global scale. 

5 Mental health and emotional well-being

AI is especially good at dealing with tasks related to natural language and image recognition, which has great potential to provide novel and innovative services for mental health and emotional well-being.

Researchers and companies have developed algorithms to detect early warning signs of mental health issues based on various data sources, such as social media posts and facial expression.

AI can also provide 24/7 help services, which may be extremely valuable as people struggle with mental issues often need support most during non-working hours, and sometimes are more willing to speak with chatbots rather than people.

Further reading:

Fischer, I., Beswick, C. and Newell, S. (2021) "Rho AI – Leveraging artificial intelligence to address climate change : financing, implementation and ethics", Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases.

Zhang, Z., Nandhakumar, J., Hummel, J. T. and Waardenburg, L. (2020) "Addressing key challenges of developing machine learning AI systems for knowledge intensive work", MIS Quarterly Executive.

 

Jochem Hummel is Assistant Professor of Information Systems and teaches Digital Business Strategy on MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation plus Managing Strategy in the Digital Era on the Undergraduate programme.

Isabel Fischer is Associate Professor (Reader) of Information Systems Management teaches Digital Leadership on the Executive MBA and Executive MBA (London) plus Digital Marketing Technology and Management on the suite of MSc Business courses.

Ram Gopal is Professor of Information Systems Management and Director of the Gillmore Financial Technology Centre. He lectures on Text Analytics on MSc Business Analytics plus Digital Finance, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies on MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation

Zhewei Zhang is Assistant Professor of Information Systems and lectures Programming for Data Analytics on MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation.

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