Artificial intelligence and it's impact on the future of our work

Jan 12, 2018 | 522 Views

The fourth industrial revolution is here and it is artificial intelligence that is helping usher this. It has begun to permeate every major industry from healthcare to finance, education and insurance. According to McKinsey Global Institute AI is bringing about a transformation in society and this is happening at a much faster rate compared to the Industrial Revolution.
In the healthcare sector, AI is helping clinicians make diagnoses in one major way that is having a huge impact on the patients. Technology giant IBM helped bring AI into the mainstream in healthcare when it rolled out their platform IBM Watson to cancer centers in 13 countries in order to aid oncologists in identifying evidence-based treatment options for patients. 
The promise of AI is not limited to commercial applications. It shows great potential to help solve some of the world'\s most challenging development problems that UNDP staff across the world contend with on a daily basis. A promising endeavour is the use of AI to automate UNDP's Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) - a tool that helps governments assess the alignment of national development plans and sectoral strategies with the 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals to determine a country's readiness for implementation of the global development agenda. 

As part of the Science for Social Good programme, UNDP teamed with IBM Research to automate the RIA, a tedious process which typically would take experts three to four weeks to complete and entail manually reviewing hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of pages of documents and assessing alignment of national development priorities with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Using AI, the initiative developed an algorithm that has been tested to evaluate the national development plans of five countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, Liberia, Mauritius, and Namibia) where manual RIAs were already undertaken. This was done to compare the results from the application of the algorithm with the results of the manual RIAs conducted by experts. The overall results have been very positive, with the system identifying a significant number of relevant national targets that align with the SDG targets. In some cases, the system has also been able to identify aligned national targets that were not picked up by experts when conducting the manual RIAs.

Similar encouraging results were seen on applying the algorithm to the national plan of Papua New Guinea, a country for which a RIA has not yet been performed. Of significance is that with the help of this system, the time taken to conduct a RIA could be substantially reduced, from three to four weeks to three to four days. The success of this endeavour is noteworthy as it will help countries to quickly identify gaps in alignment thus enabling them to better integrate the SDGs into their planning frameworks based on their specific context and priorities.

It's true that AI has the potential to solve many of our world's problems, however there is growing concern about the impact of AI on the labor markets and the needed skill sets required to embrace this technology. In order to mitigate these challenges we will need to harness AI for the common good and ensure that benefits are shared broadly. Ultimately AI is not good or bad, it's about how we choose to use it. 

Source: HOB