There’s no doubt that so far 2023 has been an Artificial Intelligence (AI) year. This is not to say the implementation of AI only arrived in 2023. It’s been around since 1950 when the Turing Test was conducted.
ChatGPT just brought the technology to the mainstream and kick-started a wider conversation and implementation of AI across industries. Coupled with this excitement there’s an increased discussion about the regulation of AI which highlights a concern by some. A number of organisations are contemplating a future where everything will be driven by AI, and therefore are imagining their existence through the AI prism.
While all of this has to be welcomed, it’s also important to take a step back and focus on what truly matters. Let me elaborate further.
The adoption of AI across industries will create a need for more authentic experiences as opposed to artificial ones. Just imagine a scenario in the banking sector. As AI gets adopted in the banking industry we are likely to see more banking clients being served by robots. This experience will include a situation where questions are answered by automated beings.
Current versions of bots that serve banking clients are not satisfactory. They leave many clients less satisfied by the experience of being served by bots. Some clients may not care much about this artificial experience, as it means financial savings of travelling to a building.
The reality is that in some instances this may mean poor service by the bank, depending on how concerns by the banking client are addressed.
Now, imagine a bank that serves an authentic experience. This bank allows a client to call a human (who of course uses AI to know the client better) that spends time addressing the concerns of a client. This banker forms a business relationship with the client that makes the banking client feel like they are really taken care of by the bank .
There’s no doubt that the authentic experience will probably be more expensive compared to the artificial experience. However, it seems the authentic experience will win the day in terms of establishing trust.
This illustration highlights what businesses (across sectors) need to consider as they decide on how to jump on the AI bandwagon.
As matters stand, there are two types of players in the AI game. There are creators of AI (which includes AI investors) technology and there are users of AI.
On the creators’ side of the equation you have Google and OpenAI (include Microsoft) as well as Nvidia, the chip-maker. Depending on which side of the equation a business sits, it will be important to be very careful about how a business implements AI.
Businesses that are not creators of AI will have to be very careful about going full force on AI in serving their clients. Over time, a market will emerge which will demand authentic experiences. In the authentic space, entities that are experts in their domain will be wiser in retaining authentic experience while using AI as a form of support in carrying out the core function. A bank that sticks with authentic experience (while using AI as support) in serving banking clients will fare better.
Currently, leaders in AI are the US, China and Europe. Africa is far behind together with its businesses. As society debates ethical issues around AI, the African continent has an opportunity to take a unique stand in the AI race. The continent is not a creator yet and continues to be a user. The African continent, however, has data that is key in the process of developing artificial intelligences.
All of these factors combined position the African continent uniquely in that it requires it to focus on authentic experiences. For now AI is a hype, over time the hype will fade.
At such a point there will be a demand for authentic experiences that are supported by AI.
In addition, an ethical slant to the implementation of AI is one of the few things that will create winners in the AI race. This approach to AI will be more premium and potentially more ideal.
As a slow starter in the AI race, Africa together with its businesses can lead in crafting a better version of AI that serve society. In this way the continent can take a more caring approach and avoid the negative impact that will come with the careless implementation of AI.
While the headlines in 2023 are proclaiming the AI takeover, the reality is that humans can still decide how AI should be implemented. AI alone cannot replace humans in a way that will deliver a quality experience for human beings.
As matters stand, a collaboration with AI is what will create a meaningful tech experience.
Wesley Diphoko is a technology analyst and editor-In-chief of FastCompany (SA) magazine