COVID-19: a teaser into the good and bad of AI adoption

Will AI take your job or make it better? As the world adjusts to a ‘new normal’ in the midst of the pandemic, the risks and benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes centre stage. 

The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly acted as a catalyst for AI adoption as companies struggle to mitigate the spread to COVID-19 in the workplace, and seek to keep operation costs low. In effect, the momentum is expected to pick up as the world adapts to the ‘new normal’ way of operating, with new job creation and tougher cybersecurity. 

Daniel Susskind, economist at Balliol College, University of Oxford parallels this notion commenting: “This pandemic has created a very strong incentive to automate the work of human beings”. 

To highlight the reality of AI inducing redundancies in a tangible manner, a paper by economists at Boston University and MIT find that robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers solely in manufacturing by 2025.  

SimilarlyCNBC references the report Turning the Tide which surveyed participants on their thoughts on AI. Key themes elicited in the paper were automation and AI driving redundancy across major industries. The report found that just 9% of respondents believed AI wouldn’t replace their job within the next decade. However, Daniel Susskind argues “Machines don’t fall ill, they don’t need to isolate to protect peers, they don’t need to take time off work”.  

The report echoed similar themes to the studies above: 

"The seismic events of 2020 have created long lasting changes in work environments across the globe and opened up new avenues that cybercriminals can abuse. Cybersecurity will help enterprises, governments and ordinary users adapt safely to these new conditions in 2021”. 

Nonetheless, it should be noted that AI replacing the human workforce is not as threatening as the general consensus makes it out to be, experts highlighting the fact that it will actually create a host of new jobs – many of which we haven’t created yet.  

However, what was good can become evil as cloud security firm Trend Micro find in thier recent report that nearly one in five IT leaders believe that cybersecurity issues will become more prominent in the future as attackers could use AI to enhance their goals by 2025. The concerns over safety were magnified during the pandemic as COVID-19-related spam emails and phishing attempts skyrocketedTurning the Tide reported that nearly 32% participants said AI will completely automate all cybersecurity.  

The report concluded: 

"Organisations -- especially global enterprises -- will have less control over their data. Delineating where data is stored and processed will become more difficult. The decreased visibility into enterprise devices only gets more problematic when employees access personal apps from work devices”. 

Source: CNBC  

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