To many business leaders, artificial intelligence feels like an imaginary technology from their favorite science fiction stories and films — but the truth is that AI is very much a part of our present, and it will undoubtedly be an essential component of our future.
In truth, AI has existed for over half a century, and it will not be another 50 years before technology becomes an essential feature of modern society.
To help business leaders better understand the state of real-world AI, here are a few interesting facts about AI that explain how different people think about and interact with AI.
Big Tech Is Buying up AI Startups
In 2020 alone, the five tech giants — Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft — acquired no less than 13 AI startups. Since 2010, all five have cumulatively acquired 76 AI firms. Big tech is racing to invest in AI and integrate research and development operations in the hopes of cornering the AI market and obtaining cutting-edge AI tools that allow them to remain competitive.
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To do this, big tech firms are paying billions upon billions of dollars; in 2021 alone, Google’s parent company Alphabet spent over $31 billion merely on AI R&D.
Business leaders working far outside the tech realm should recognize that such behavior is indicative of an imminent, radical shift toward AI. Big tech is not investing such outrageous sums in a technology they are uncertain about; instead, tech giants are putting almost everything they have into AI acquisition, research and development because they are sure that AI is the future. Business leaders unfamiliar and uncomfortable with AI would overcome their ignorance with an artificial intelligence online course led by AI experts.
Finland Offers Free AI Education
Way back in 2018, the country of Finland recognized the rising importance of AI and thus developed an online AI crash course available for free to any Finnish citizen. By making such education available to everyone in the country, Finland hoped to train a generation of AI experts, who could then assist in the technological advancement of Finland on the world stage.
By no means is Finland the only country to recognize the power of AI. Every significant world power is investing in AI, though every country seems to have a different strategy. The U.S. has several grant programs to fund AI research in startups or academic settings; China has state-run AI labs.
Countries are investing as fervently in AI as big tech companies because AI expertise has such potential to protect and enhance all manner of national operations, from GDP to security.
Business leaders should avoid falling behind the technological prowess of their culture, which means investing in their AI edification as soon as possible.
Almost All AI Voices Are Female
Siri, Alexa, Cortana — most AI-driven voice assistants have female voices when asked why most tech executives will cite the ample research suggesting that women feel more comfortable listening to a female voice.
Yet, the truth is that there is a long precedent of using female voices in tech — going way back to the standard of female telephone operators in the early 20th century and the preference for recorded female voices in plane cockpits during World War II.
There are decades upon decades of female voice recordings stored and available for research, and the same is not true of male voices.
More likely, using female voices in AI is a choice of convenience borne of enduring gender bias. Business leaders should consider how their AI tools and investment reinforce cultural biases and work to deconstruct inequality in their workplace technology.
The EU Maintains AI Ethics Guidelines
China is sprinting ahead in developing newer and better AI — mainly because the government controls its people’s reactions to new technology. In contrast, in the West, AI development has slowed primarily because much of the population has increasing concerns about how advanced technology might impact their privacy.
To help manage apprehension, the European Union has drafted a set of AI ethics guidelines meant to steer AI developers toward safer and smarter data collection and management.
Ideally, other Western countries will implement similar regulations to ensure that companies do their utmost to protect consumer data. Then, Western businesses can continue competing with Chinese organizations thanks to high-quality, advanced AI solutions.
Artificial intelligence is more than natural — it is essential for business leaders to maintain relevant and competitive organizations in the future. Executives can create success with AI-led businesses with continued AI education and investment in AI news and developments.