‘AI not a threat but an opportunity’
ARTIFICIAL Intelligence (AI) is being integrated into our everyday life as the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it swooping changes to our cyber systems and the way that we use technology both in the workplace and at home.
AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.
According to Sipho Pityana, president of Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and chairperson of AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa’s education system needs to evolve to make use of the opportunities presented by the next revolution.
“We have to look at the disruptions that will take place and change our education system so that we train suitably skilled workers,” he said.
Pityana said digital technology was transforming politics, businesses, economies and society, and day-to-day lives.
“Approximately 41% of all of our job activity in South Africa is susceptible to automation so we have to shift the focus from seeing technology not as a threat but as opportunities,” Pityana said.
“We are not having sufficient conversations among ourselves about the social dynamics of the digital revolution.
“We are currently battling with low levels of numeracy and technology literacy – shortcomings that make many of our people unemployable in a growing economy,” said Pityana.
Lebo Lekoma, director of client services at Sea Monster Entertainment in Cape Town, works on programmes using gamification, virtual and augmented reality (AR), and animation.
“AI and AR can sometimes get a bad reputation because of what we’ve seen on movies, but we can use it to solve human problems and challenges,” said Lekoma.
“We can use AR for things like doing height detection training to see if a worker is afraid of heights before he is even hired for a job and put through training by using AR to simulate the experience.”
He has worked on a cellphone application for the South African Reserve Bank using augmented reality on bank notes helping users to understand what the markings on the note mean, the authenticity of the note and historical facts.
The note is brought to life through the app.
“So if you are a history buff or a child going to school you can learn all these facts,” said Lekoma.
Jonathan Walker, the founder of Granadilla, an app-based insurer, said the insurance industry had to use technology to speed up claims processes to radically change how the industry operates.
“Besides the many issues one encounters, as an insurance client the biggest issue I have with the business is the inefficiency of it,” Walker said.
“Customer service is slow, because in many cases the industry hasn’t evolved its claims process since the invention of the telephone.
“This inefficiency also results in costs which are passed on to the customer,” said Walker.
He said AI makes the customer experience more personalised through the collection of data which is then used to interact with customers.
The more data that is fed into these systems, the more intelligently they can react, and interact, by predicting the behaviour of customers, Walker added.