AI will be pervasive by 2020, predicts Gartner

AI will help create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million jobs in 2020, although new types of skills will be needed

"AI promises to be the most disruptive class of technologies during the next 10 years due to advances in computational power, volume, velocity and variety of data, as well as advances in deep neural networks (DNNs)," says John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.

Thus, AI technologies are prompting technology strategic planners to redraw near-term and long-term product plans, says Lovelock.

In a Gartner forecast report on the business value of AI, Lovelock points out some of the impact of AI technologies in the next two years.

By 2020, he states, at least 40 per cent of people will interact primarily with people-literate technologies, removing much of the perceived need to invest further in improving computer literacy.

Virtual private assistants (VPAs) and voice response systems, such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Siri, are becoming the norm for consumer interaction with search engines, along with many other services that would previously need interaction via web browsers, he says.

“For many users, this AI functionality will become the norm, and there will no longer be the need to understand, or use, traditional computer operating systems or applications for many tasks,” notes Lovelock.

“It will enable many more people to easily interact with complex computer systems, reducing the need for computer literacy as we know it today.”

During this time, virtual agents will start participating in majority of commercial interactions between people and businesses.

Many early uses of AI are in customer interactions via chatbots, using humans only when the queries are beyond the chatbot capabilities. But Gartner says the use of AI-based services for customer engagement will increase, with the rise in the capabilities of speech-to-text systems and translation.

By 2019, Gartner predicts startups will overtake Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft in driving the AI economy with disruptive business systems.

It says currently most of the initial work in developing AI models is being done by the so-called ‘Super 7’ cloud operators, referring to the group of Alibaba, Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Tencent.

But to accelerate adoption of AI, many development frameworks and tools are being made available via the open-source software community.

This approach removes any opportunity to monetise software in this space, but accelerates development at a wide range of startup companies that focus on developing AI-driven tools and solutions for use by a wide range of business organisations.

These startups also will leverage the cloud providers' on-demand compute capacity to build and train new AI models. They will then integrate these new models into a wide range of new business applications and services.

However, once developed, the new business applications and services may not tap the cloud vendors' AI API services.

The report sees AI as a “positive net job motivator”.

AI will help create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million jobs in 2020, although new types of skills will be needed, reports Gartner.

The number of jobs affected by AI will vary by industry, with healthcare, government and education benefitting from growing job demand, while the manufacturing sector will experience the biggest impact from AI-enabled processes.

Longer term, the job losses will mainly be in the middle skilled jobs, or those in which training is received “on the job”.

In the light of these assumptions, the report calls on technology strategic planners to ensure that development of AI products and services are small, focused and targeted.

“Focus new AI development on decision support/augmentation, which derives the largest business value for users and faces the fewest early barriers to adoption,”

Look at industries with large amounts of data that humans can not possibly analyse or understand on their own, as the early adopters of AI, it states.

John-David Lovelock or Gartner: "AI promises to be the most disruptive class of technologies during the next decade."

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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