Enterprises are seeing a lot of potential in automation of their processes but it will have a negative impact on employment.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an agent that is able to perform tasks that would require human intelligence. Examples of these tasks are visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. AI has revolutionised the information technology. It is a sub-field of computer science that includes the creation of intelligent machines and software that work and react like human beings. Artificial Intelligence is transforming the nature of almost everything which is connected to human life, e.g. employment, economy, communication, warfare, privacy, security, ethics, healthcare etc. However, we are not sure about its impacts and we are yet to see its future evolution – if it is leading humanity towards making this planet a better place to live or a place which is full of disaster.
Current State of AI
If we look at the current state of AI, the pace of evolution of artificial intelligence is speeding up. Artificial Intelligence is not new, it was first coined by American scientist John McCarthy in 1955, who is also considered co-founder of the field Artificial Intelligence . So research in the field of AI has been there for decades, but the conditions were not appropriate for AI to flourish. Nowadays, we have cloud computing to store torrents of data remotely. Moreover, neural network technology, which is crucial in learning, is not that expensive these days. Given the facts, conditions for AI are right now. Even the largest companies in tech-industry, e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM, have dived into AI research where they see a huge potential.
Application of AI in Industry
As AI research is progressing with a fast pace, a lot of companies are looking forward to utilising its power to improve their services (Fig.1) . The largest US retail company, Walmart, is trying to build robotic shopping carts, while Amazon is developing robots for its fulfilment centres that will serve the delivery between stackers and pickers. The automobile industry is investing a vast amount of money to embed AI into cars. In fact, Tesla Motors has already introduced AI into their cars which enable auto-pilot mode and other lane changing features.
Toyota is investing billions of dollars to combine Artificial Intelligence with Big Data to facilitate mobility assistance driving for people who are less confident to drive. It is a big opportunity for the industries who are leaders in AI to build self-driving cars. Hence, the tech giants Google and Apple are investing a huge amount of money to dive into this market.
Google has recently launched an open-source version of its Artificial Intelligence engine named TensorFlow. Google uses this engine in various product and services. Now researchers outside of Google are using this engine to test their algorithms, since there is a huge potential in this technology to be used at various commercial levels (Fig.2).
Thus, enterprises are seeing a lot of potential in automation of their processes but it will have a negative impact on employment. Fig.3 below statically explains the impact of technology on employment:
Future of AI
The next steps in AI mostly include generalising the intelligence and creating as many use cases as possible, which eventually can be converged into Human-Level Machine Intelligence (HLMI). OpenAI wants to further advance AI in a way that benefits society as a whole and is freed from the need of generating revenues. As OpenAI has already made its reinforcement learning framework public, it will create possibilities for other companies to create different use cases and contribute to the AI research as an open source project.
Other companies have also started to make use of AI technology into different domains. One such example is Turing Robot, a Chinese company which is behind the HTC's Hidi, a voice assistant. Turing Robot offers voice recognition and natural language processing for a wide variety of applications including Bosch's car system and Haier's home appliances. Now Turing Robot is focused on developing Turing OS for service bots.
Another use case is being developed by Amazon, which is working on developing Alexa in the direction of recognising emotions. Amazon is making significant advancements in Alexa – which is a virtual helper which sits inside the voice-controlled appliances offered by Amazon. While people get irritated from the repeatedly wrong response from voice assistances like Google Now, Siri, Hidi etc., Amazon focuses on emotion recognition from the voice tone and enable voice assistance to offer an apology for a wrong response.
Similarly, a Silicon Valley based company named Vicarious is developing an entirely a new way of information processing akin to the information flow in human brain which they believe to help machines to become a lot smarter.
Toyota is developing a system which will predict where you are going before you tell it. Toyota has recently announced its new subsidiary named Toyota Connect which will facilitate to collect torrents of data every day and the battle to mine the data already been started. Thus, in the future, your AI will know more about you than you do. A start-up called Brain of Things is developing a smart home which they named 'robot home'. These robot houses keep an eye on each activity of the inhabitants - whether they are watching a movie, sleeping or doing something else. There are lots of advancements made in different domains all using AI technology while developing it further in parallel to achieving their desired results .
Artificial Intelligence: Bangladesh Perspective
Bangladesh is a country of 160 million people and this is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is an agriculture driven country where new wave of recently developed technologies has touched its various areas and getting new propulsion. In different industrial areas, automation and control technologies are being applied. Only very recently the term AI along with IoT, Big Data, Blockchain etc. has become very popular in Bangladesh. The technological evolution of AI started long time ago, but its impacts are being revealed now in our country. Some specific sectors, such as services, transportation, education, agriculture, health, and environment, have been identified for effective implementation of AI in Bangladesh. As a whole, we see tremendous use of AI technologies, for instance, using ride-sharing, natural language processing (NLP) for Bangla, ChatBot, booking flight and hotel, real time mapping, etc in our day to day life, making our daily-life comfortable. Bangladesh possesses 34% of young people who are technology driven; the successful integration of AI with the existing strategy holds a huge prospect for future development of the country.
Legal Policy Framework for using AI
In order to maintain some certain issues like ethics, data privacy, security, and regulations, and in case of using AI technology, the following steps might be followed:
- We need to define how we are going to use AI as well as when and where it will be used. However, if we reach that point in the future, it is really important to have a centralised global governing body which lays down the framework for prioritising the positive outcome over its own interest;
- Initiatives like 'One hundred years study of Artificial Intelligence' by Stanford University is necessary to carry out long-term analysis of AI development which will help us to figure out long term harm which AI might bring to society; 
- Build a system of checks and balances with several AIs, so that they can check on each other and, as a whole, can act as dependency network for decision making; 
- We certainly need an ethics charter for the further development of robotic research and we need to set up operational ethics committees for robotic research advancements;
- Public bodies have to speed up for decision making about the growth of technological advancements and the challenges of the impact of AI on employment and economy.
In the context of Artificial Intelligence, it is very difficult now to predict the future of humanity. We can accept AI as a new technology, but it should bring positive impacts for the welfare of the society and humanity. An outstanding technology can exhibit positive impacts on society along with its severely negative impacts too. While applying this new technology, we have to be ready to face consequences of the negative effects too. Regarding this, we certainly need a legal policy framework to mitigate the challenges associated with AI and compensate the affected parties in case of a fatal error so that the serious threat to humanity could be minimised.
The writer is the chairman of the Department of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Dhaka