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Beyond the Numbers: Measuring AI’s Real-World Impact

Recently, businesses are taking advantage of technologies to develop innovative new services and solutions, such as AI-powered chatbots to improve the customer experience.

Businesses are making significant strides in the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), and we’ve had the privilege of working with many of these leaders, observing their changes from the front row. Leveraging ML and AI, organizations are harnessing data to derive powerful business insights, improving forecasting, and accelerating decision making. More recently, businesses are taking advantage of these technologies to develop innovative new services and solutions, such as AI-powered chatbots to improve the customer experience.

Organizations worldwide are making these technologies a priority, with IDC forecasting that worldwide revenues for the AI market will total $156.5 billion in 2020, and surpass $300 billion in 2024. Also, the Indian Artificial Intelligence market is valued at $6.4 Bn as of July – August 2020 as per the AIMResearch Emerging Technologies report. Beyond the profit and revenue numbers, adopting ML and AI services is helping many businesses make a tangible and positive impact on society. This article takes a closer look at some of the most promising areas of change.

Finding Solutions to Large-Scale Problems 

ML and AI solutions are helping to address complex issues that humans have traditionally found difficult to solve by themselves. Consider the issue of food and crop yields. The UN estimates the world will need to produce 50 percent more food by 2050 than we produce today. It also reports that in 2019, more than 820 million people lived with food insecurity and hunger. Tackling this issue and ensuring we can meet future needs requires a radically different approach to food production, food wastage, and using resources sustainably.  

We are already seeing how AI technology is helping farmers to produce food more efficiently, while also ensuring that resources and land are used in a sustainable manner. For example, NatureFresh Farms in the US uses robotic lenses to track the growth of crops, coupled with an AI algorithm that predicts when crops will ripen. AI is also used to adjust light distribution to accelerate or slow the pace of maturation. This makes it possible to predict the exact volume of food that will be ready, as well as predict the rate of ripening, improving the efficiency of sales and distribution channels while reducing food wastage. There’s a significant amount of processing power here, which led NatureFresh Farms to turn to us. 

ML and AI have also made significant impact on the logistics industry, which has become even more important with global lockdowns and restrictions during the pandemic. For instance, Tech Mahindra in India utilizes our hardware along with technologies like ML and Internet of Things services to develop its Cargo Measurement Solution, which establishes deep neural networks that automatically measure the physical dimensions of parcels, improving operational efficiencies and helping companies deliver shipments more quickly. 

Addressing Societal and Systemic Inequalities

The application of ML and AI is giving us tangible insights and solutions to tackle larger societal issues, such as inequities that keep us from ensuring everyone has the same access to opportunities to grow and to contribute. As humans, we have a tendency to rely on heuristics, which are problem-solving strategies developed over time based on our previous experiences. However, misinterpretations of experiences, and imperfect access to information can result in the development of sub-optimal heuristics, biases, and prejudice. ML helps us to overcome this natural tendency, and arms us with the objective, deep insights we need to tackle these issues in the long run.

For example, there is often unconscious bias associated with language and literacy, which we mistakenly correlate with intelligence: an articulate person is often thought to be smart by default. However, there are a huge range of factors that determine a person’s command of language, such as neurodiversity, access to formal education, or simply the fact that English might be a speaker’s second, third, or even fourth language.  

AI-powered digital writing assistants such as the Grammarly Keyboard, an app that offers users a way to edit their written messages, documents, and social posts, help people to communicate more clearly, levelling the playing field and allowing them to contribute their ideas freely. Equitable and widespread access to education is critical to our future, and ML/AI plays an important role here as well. For instance, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, India-based education service provider Career Launcher needed to rapidly scale up its online learning platform to support double the size of its former user base, enabling hundreds of thousands of K-12 students in Delhi to continue their online classes. The use of analytics, AI tools, and computing capability allowed the platform to identify at-risk students, develop personalized content, improve grading efficiency, and provide online self-service tools for students to ensure their continued learning during these difficult times. 

Bringing Machine-Like Precision to Healthcare

Healthcare is another area where ML/AI is helping to create significant advances. For example, Electronic Caregiver, headquartered in the US, deploys ML to develop medical alert wearables that can also track a wearers’ lifestyle and send potential life-saving alerts if prolonged states of inactivity are detected. Here, ML-based language recognition tools pick up on indicators and help connect customers with advanced response teams in times of need.

Today, the use of ML and AI is contributing significantly to the global fight against COVID-19. In India, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in collaboration with Intel, is using AI to accelerate COVID-19 testing and reduce testing costs as the country aims to bring the pandemic under control. AWS also recently launched CORD-19 Search, a ML-powered search website that enables researchers to quickly derive critical insights about COVID-19 from tens of thousands of research materials using natural language questions. In addition, the quick and efficient sequencing of the virus, afforded to us by ML and AI, is allowing us to rapidly advance our understanding of the coronavirus and speed up vaccine development. 

These are just some prominent examples of how technology is helping people create positive impact in almost every aspect of our economies, businesses, societies, and even our everyday lives – and we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of possibilities. With further advances in the near and long term, we look forward to seeing how organizations around the world are finding innovative ways of combining the potential of ML/AI technologies with the power of compute. 

Source: Business World

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