Artificial intelligence (AI) is the software engine that drives the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Its impact can already be seen in our homes, across businesses, and impacting our political processes.

Implementing AI

In its embodied form of robots, it will soon be driving our cars, stocking our warehouses, and caring for the young and elderly. It holds the promise of solving some of the most pressing issues facing society, but also presents challenges such as inscrutable “black box” algorithms, unethical use of data, and potential job displacement.

As rapid advances in machine learning (ML) increase the scope and scale of AI’s deployment across all aspects of daily life, and as the technology itself can learn and change on its own, multi-stakeholder collaboration is required to collectively shape its evolution.

AI divides human opinion.  In 2014, Stephen Hawking warned that AI could be our greatest or last achievement. In one scenario AI will revolutionize precision medicine and healthcare options, and in the other AI will bring about the end of humanity and perhaps the planet. What stands out across each viewpoint is the ethics of AI: we need to think about its ethical design now to maximize its benefits and recognize the risks. Change will come from AI, therefore, we need to plan and manage its growth. Ten years ago, companies started to focus on sustainability. Today they need to pay attention to ethical use of AI in the same way.

People mostly view AI as transferring control and tasks to computers from humans. They rarely consider the power shift from one group of humans to another. Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies can help developed countries leapfrog ahead or it can leave people behind – it depends on the adoption and use of the technology.

“We need to think about its ethical design now to maximize its benefits and recognize the risks.”

Technology in vulnerable populations

If we look at HealthTap’s Dr. A.I. we can see the immediate benefits to remote rural communities across the globe. The program asks patients questions and, based on their responses, follow-up questions. Dr. A.I. then analyzes all of that input, along with the patient’s health record. However, roughly four billion people worldwide don’t have Internet access; just over 35 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa will have Internet access by 2020. A 2016 Citi report suggests AI and robotics will impact developing countries the most – potentially leading to further economic migration.

To tackle the current challenges and opportunities for AI, governments and businesses need to engage with a global network of stakeholders. Approaches need to be human-centered to drive impact and social inclusion for AI to augment our human skills. Those who design, develop and use AI must think about the ethical aspects of their work not just allow them to become unforeseen circumstances which might be costly to their company or the world.