THE PROS AND CONS OF AI: A tightrope walk

Artificial Intelligence: A Boon or a Bane?

With respect to Artificial Intelligence, the buzzword of the 21st Century, Dave Waters says:

“Artificial Intelligence is an infant at best. Once it becomes a teenager and believes it is smarter than its parents, will AI rebel?”

In today’s rapidly advancing world, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is certainly not uncommon to hear or read, in magazines and blog posts (such as those posted by XLNC!); at business meetings and on television. In our everyday lives, a lot of us apply AI technology to our mundane organizational as well as other personal tasks, more often than not without even realizing its presence. However, a substantial population of individuals and groups are still extremely skeptical about this illusive technology, and the idea of machines functioning autonomously without human intervention. While AI enthusiasts often sound gung-ho about the fields of Machine Learning and Automation – claiming these to make life more efficient and dynamic – a lot of others still struggle with getting over the apprehension that AI might take complete control of human life, leaving us slaves to a Frankenstein’s monster.
We’re back with a blog; and today, let’s discuss the various conventions and perceptions associated with the AI technology; and objectively evaluate AI’s benefits and drawbacks against the backdrop of the 21st Century world:

I.Hey! AI ain’t all that bad, after all…
For those of you who are apprehensive and skeptical about embracing a technology as “frightening” and “overpowering” as Artificial Intelligence, we’re here to break the ice between AI and you. Here we are, with the positive side of Artificial Intelligence:

a.Artificial Intelligence does not recognize intellectual laziness
While human intelligence has managed to achieve leaps and bounds in various fields at different levels, it is always highly susceptible to spells of complacence and “intellectual laziness”. That’s where AI steps in. Siri, Alexa and Cortana do not tire of assisting you regardless of the time of day or night (for more dope on this, check out our previous blog on chatbots – http://xlnctechnologies.com/5-ways-in-which-chatbots-are-the-best-assistance/); and your personalized AI tutors will never tire of teaching you or helping you with teaching others. This is one of the reasons for Artificial Intelligence being promoted over manual task completion.

b.To err is human, so humans created Artificial Intelligence.
Einstein famously said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” As living beings, mistakes and blunders have always been a simultaneous process alongside the successes and accomplishments. However, Artificial Intelligence is definitely not a blunder (okay, hang on…we’re coming to the cons!). When programmed accurately, an AI technology is less likely to commit errors; and is usually flexible across different platforms.

c.‘Cause humans are so quick, they find themselves too slow…
Today, the world is now resorting to quickness and instantaneousness in whatever it does – so much so, that the natural speed of humans is sometimes too slow for this world. And so, AI bridges the gap between the fast progressing world and the people residing in it, by providing faster and more efficient ways and means of reaching the desired ends. AI is being widely used in almost all sectors today, including healthcare, education, transportation and communication, and defense and military, in order to ensure speed and accuracy with minimal compromise on either.

d.Your AI is sensitive, but not emotional.
While chatbots and GPS may be courteous and sensitive to your needs, they certainly do not possess deeper emotions and mood-swings; and you can rest assured that they will not complain of overwork and fatigue. And such a detached concern for the customers ensures that they can be reliable, diligent and caring, even when the work is strenuous and hectic.

II. AI ain’t all that good either…
But, are we headed towards utopia? Is AI really so perfect that one can totally overlook even remote possibilities of failures or disadvantages? Most definitely not! Just like everything else on this earth, AI, too, has two sides; and a lot of people are skeptical about applying this technology for this reason. Come, let’s evaluate the various drawbacks of AI, and brainstorm on each:

a.Yes, my processes will be more efficient, but at what ‘cost’?
Once installed and applied to our day-to-day lives, Artificial Intelligence can certainly be quite viable and cost effective. However, in the first place, it is important to install it to our already existing systems and ensure that it functions optimally and independently. And these processes are not exactly economical. Designing the specific tool of AI and then training the machine to operate without human intervention can be an expensive task, and one needs to be prepared to incur the expenditure in order to enjoy the results later.

b.Your AI is emotionally intelligent, but sometimes not intelligently emotional
Yes, AI may have been designed to understand human emotions and analyze sentiments. AI may also be able to carry out complex tasks that humans may never be able to undertake. However, there is a certain depth in perception and perspective that no machine has ever been able to touch, at least till now. And due to this incapability, AI ventures can sometimes turn into not-so-pleasant adventures. For example, in 2016, Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot created havoc when it began abusing, and passing pro-Nazi comments such as “Hitler was right.” While this experimental chatbot, Tay, was only imitating some humans who had been playing mischief, the situation was certainly alarming. Had the AI device been entirely controlled and mediated by a human, the situation may have probably been handled better.
AI technology may be perceived as an innocent child whose mind, though extremely active, is a clean slate. It is the responsibility of humans to ensure it doesn’t waiver from the right path.

c.“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein meant this only for human intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence apparently cannot have fun beyond a certain extent – it is limited to the innovative strategies and programming already stored inside them by humans. And so, intrinsic creativity does not figure anywhere here. That’s a faculty exclusive to humans – and processes sans human intervention can, well, only do so much to help matters.

d.While taking the help of machines, are we becoming machines ourselves?
This is one of the greatest concerns that the modern, artificially intelligent world is having to face in the recent times. There is always a threat that Artificial Intelligence can replace human intelligence in a big way; however, a lot of us don’t realize that as creators of Artificial Intelligence, it is we who have the upper-hand over our creations. As users, one must realize that machines and technology are not meant for encouraging intellectual laziness and procrastination; but rather, for facilitating increased efficiency and application of one’s intellect. And any device, when misused, can be detrimental to society and individuals. AI is no different.

Source:

https://www.infoworld.com/article/3184205/technology-business/danger-danger-10-alarming-examples-of-ai-gone-wild.html#slide2

RPA, EVERYDAY: 5 Ways in Which RPA Helps You in Your Day-to-Day Life

It’s no secret that Robotic Process Automation is slowly taking over the repetitive, rule-based tasks in organizations. Process robots are rapidly paving the way for employees and companies to engage in much more productive and stimulating tasks, and progress in their organizational journey. According to Forrester, the RPA industry will be worth $2.9 billion in 2021. However, Robotic Process Automation has also taken over a significant place in our day-to-day lives, without even our realizing it. Every day, we interact with different technologies that quietly make our lives a little more efficient, and allow us to focus on more dynamic tasks instead. We’re back with a blog, and this time, we shall discuss some significant functions that RPA performs in our day-to-day lives:

1.Shop assured, as your software bot makes your repository!
You so love that classy pair of shoes. You add it to your cart, Check-out to purchase the product, pay for the product, and successfully place the order, before you get back to what you were doing before. But have you ever wondered what processes take place at the other end? Once you place your order, they are then tracked on repositories, and it is after stock maintenance that your item is finally dispatched to you. If done manually, these tasks are extremely time-consuming and monotonous, and prevent any other form of productive activity that might actually benefit the retail website. And hence, process robots often take over, and make life more efficient; both for the sellers as well as the buyers. Happy shopping and selling!

2.If it’s a WEB, let automation be the spider!
With millions and millions of individuals and groups operating on the internet day in and day out across the globe, web analytics can become extremely complex and tedious. Moreover, such a vast repertoire of users also calls for a wide variety of target groups, leading to extremely diverse consumer needs and requirements. In such a world of cut-throat competition, it is essential for organizations to come up with out-of-the-box advertising and marketing strategies in order to attract the attention of such a wide audience. And in such a case, tasks such as carrying out static web analytics can certainly become tedious and tiring. This is where bots enter the scenario, and crawl the internet to come up with all the data required for advertisers to then consider interesting advertising hacks and strategies. It’s a dynamic world – let’s not limit ourselves by performing monotonous tasks.

3.‘Troubleshooting?’ Shoot the trouble with RPA.
Brainstorming on the solutions to complex organizational problems can cause frustration and boredom in an employee; moreover, since ‘imperfect’ is the synonym for ‘human’, it is but natural for human decision makers to commit errors in their decision making process. However, bots and AI are different. Using RPA and AI, one can automate these troubleshooting processes, thus making work-life more efficient and error-free.

4.How may our process bot help you today, please?
The helpdesk is usually our preliminary go-to area in case of any complications or issues relating to the website or service in question. But have you wondered how the super-humans behind the helpdesk manage to answer you in that courteous tonality despite having just answered fifty calls in the past half an hour? Yes, it can get quite tedious. And let’s face it, the customer-service persons deserve their breaks, too. That’s when process robots enter the picture. Process robots can act as the connecting medium between the customers and customer service personnel; in that it is possible to automate those aspects of the conversation which are static and common to all customers. So, the next time you indulge in a customer-service interaction, remember that it may not always necessarily be a human behind the desk – it could be a bot.

5.Your bot can also roll out your payroll!
Ever experienced a delay in receiving your pay? That’s because the poor humans dealing with your salary have to enter payroll information pulled out from different sources into your payroll system. And this task, of course, is extremely time-consuming and repetitive. Why not recruit a bot for this process? And so, in modern times, there is certainly a probability that a process bot deals with your payroll system.

A lot of times, people fear that RPA might take away from them the humanness afforded to them by their mundane lives. However, the above examples are testimony to the fact that this is far from the truth – process bots do not take away the human angle from a person’s everyday life. They merely help everyday living become more efficient and comfortable.

WELCOMING DIGITAL EDUCATION: How Digitization is Transforming the Education Sector Today

With the advent of modern technology and a communication revolution of sorts, the world is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking till it all gets compressed into your phone. And amidst all this hullabaloo, can the education sector stay far behind?
From Gurukuls and Ashrams to schools and classrooms to Udemy and Coursera, education has come a long way. A decade ago, the sight of blackboards and chalks and dusters and worksheets was more common than it is now; and it’s no surprise that it might be an even rarer phenomenon in the next decade. A lot of philosophers have often reiterated the oneness of the entire world, and the universality of existence. The emergence and establishment of e-learning and virtual classroom has ensured the practical implementation of this idea. Today, teaching has become a way more flexible and virtual phenomenon, where teachers are earning double the amount while teaching with the same zest and passion, while students are able to access the educational content at their convenience, as opposed to having rigid timetables to abide by. According to Learndash, approximately 4.6 billion students are taking at least one online course today. On that note, here are some of the defining features of digitization in education:

1) ATE (Any Time Education): The limitless reach of e-learning has ensured that teachers and students hailing from extremely diverse backgrounds can interact and hold discussions, and the ocean of knowledge can transcend all boundaries of geographical locations and time-zones.

2) Say goodbye to that ‘AB’ marking: Teachers can safely bury their thick attendance registers. With e-learning, absenteeism and truancy can be monitored and reduced, since teachers can upload and students can view their content as per their convenience. The teacher’s sick leave, or the student’s day out will not affect the education process.

3) They learn more, you earn more: Across the globe, teaching has always been regarded as a noble profession, but a thankless job. With e-learning, teaching continues to be as noble as ever, only with the teacher being rewarded handsomely for his/her efforts. Teachers can now earn double their usual amount, while teaching with the same zest.

4) Now, no more “raise hand to answer”! – With many e-learning platforms offering discussion panels and internal chat facilities, classrooms discussions could never have gotten easier and less chaotic. Enjoy peaceful discussions in your online classroom today.

5) Three hours of lectures, five hours of travel? Not anymore. E-learning helps you get somewhere, without going anywhere for it. You may be at home, inside a café, at your hometown…doesn’t matter. Teachers and students can operate from anywhere.

6) Learn while you earn! – As a busy employee, e-learning values the employee’s lack of time, and need for further development. And so, organizations and industries can train and educate employees using e-learning.

While e-learning has received an overwhelming response across the globe, and is rewriting the age-old definitions of education, personal contact and face-to-face interactions are still of immense value and relevance in today’s era. It’s probably best to conclude with the golden words of Professor Pierre Dussauge:

“The beauty is in finding the right balance between online and in-class learning, and the best way to make progress is to experiment with different combinations.”

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