AI Optimism Market

type - big idea
Big Idea
category - society
sector - media & technology
Pushing back on doom, dive into the AI boom’s potential to make consumers healthier, more productive and equal.

In November 2022, American AI lab OpenAI launched its artificially intelligent chatbot ChatGPT. The fastest growing consumer software application in history, it attracted over 100m users within two months and contributed to OpenAI’s growing valuation of £21.6–23.3bn ($27–29bn, 25bn–27bn) (sources: Reuters, Business Today). ChatGPT brought consumerawareness of AI’s increasingly sophisticated abilities to the mainstream. A whole host of AI tools that can categorise, classify, generate and filter data with little human input have become available to consumers, and the number of downloads for AI-powered apps reached more than 20m in March, a 1,506% year-on-year increase (source: Apptopia).

Consumers have expressed concern, with 76% of respondents to a 2023 Forbes US survey saying they fear AI’s potential to generate swathes of misinformation. There are also worries about the impact of AI technologies at work. Some 77% of US consumers told the same survey they are worried that AI will cause job losses within the next 12 months (source: Forbes).

But a Morning Consult survey in the US conducted in February 2023 revealed consumers are warming to AI and are particularly interested in using the tech to help with various everyday activities. Some 49% of respondents claim they would use AI to help with online searches, 48% want it to generate recipes and 37% would seek its help with investment advice.

By aping and speeding up human processes, AI has the potential to change our world rapidly. Instead of feeling a sense oftrepidation, various optimistic businesses and brands are already investing in the revolutionary technology to make consumers healthier, more productive and equitable human beings.

Performing emotional labour

AI brings algorithmic logic to tasks that can feel emotionally daunting for humans. In March 2023, US-based wedding planning platform Joy launched its AI-powered Wedding Writer’s Block tool. Users provide it with details about the type of vows they want to write, and the tool turns their feelings into heartfelt prose.

American music streaming service Spotify introduced an AI-powered DJ feature in February 2023. It claims to identify a user’s music taste so well that it can choose what to play for them. The AI DJ then banters about the tracks and artists in a realistic voice. While hyper-personalised streaming is not new, the virtual DJ’s ability to take the human labour out of hosting music-based celebrations such as birthday parties or weddings is innovative.

Published by:

21 June 2023

Author: By Pavan Bivigou and Gabriela Białkowska

Image: AI-powered humanoid robot Miroki designed to support medical staff by Enchanted Tools, France


Meet Your DJ by Spotify, Global

Supercharging healthcare

Although 75% of Americans think the movement to integrate AI in medicine and health is moving too fast, it is the speed of AI that greatly appeals to drug developers (source: Pew Research Center). Super-fast artificially intelligent algorithms are rapidly streamlining what has traditionally been a lengthy and costly process. Founded in 2012, Exscientia’s AI-powered drug technologies take 12 to 15 months from starting a project to identifying a drug candidate, compared with the four and a half years in the traditional pharmaceutical industry (source: The Guardian). In May 2023, the company’s share price soared by 30.3% after it announced it now had six novel molecules in clinical trials, all generated by AI. The company expects to create four money-producing products by 2024 (source: S&P Global Market Intelligence).

The AI in healthcare market is projected to grow from £11.7bn ($14.6bn, €13.6bn) in 2023 to £82.4bn ($102.7bn, €95.7bn) by 2028 (source: Markets and Markets). In addition to aiding in the development of drugs, AI has the potential to assist doctors in delivering patient care. A study of more than 20,000 cancer patients conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania used an AI algorithm to analyse over 500 variables in patients. It assigned priority ratings for end-of-life care and sent prompts to doctors to offer conversations. The study found AI intervention increased the rate of end-of-life conversations, influencing patients to make decisions that lead to a better quality of life during their final days.

AI can also tackle diagnosis. In April 2023, British healthcare company Ultromics received US Food and Drug Administration clearance for its AI device EchoGo. This analyses echocardiograms to detect the presence of cardiac amyloidosis, which accounts for 50% of the 64m cases of heart failure worldwide (source: PR Newswire).

' People see technology as this adversary or something to compete against. We see it as a tool. It's this thing that helps us do more with less ' -Pelonomi Moiloa, co-founder, Lelapa.AI

Digital decolonisation

Africa and the Middle East are set to see the fastest growth in AI spending worldwide, reaching £2.4bn ($3bn, €2.8bn) in 2023 and a predicted £5.1bn ($6.4bn, €5.9bn) by 2026 (source: The Guardian). Acknowledging AI’s revolutionary potential outside of the Western world, a group of global experts in AI, social sciences, humanities and human rights collaborated in 2021 to create The Decolonial AI Manyfesto. The Manyfesto states: ‘In insisting on a decolonial AI, we stand for the right of each historically marginalised community to reshape reality on their terms.’

One key way to assert this right is through using Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies to support the translation and interpretation of under-represented languages, making information more accessible and inclusive. Masakhane is a grassroots organisation whose mission is to strengthen and spur NLP research in African languages, for Africans, by Africans. It does this through publishing scholarly research, data-gathering and hosting events such as its African NLP Workshop, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, in May 2023.

Lelapa.AI, a South African-based AI lab, is decolonial AI in action. ‘A lot of [AI] tools created in the West do not work in our context,’ Pelonomi Moiloa, one of the lab’s co-founders, tells LS:N Global. ‘And they have potential to cause harm or discriminate, which reinforces power imbalances.’ In response, Lelapa.AI is set to launch Vulavula, its first natural language model solution, in late 2023. This speech-to-text and text-to-speech AI will primarily function as an API that businesses can embed into their systems to communicate to Africans in their under-represented languages. ‘People see technology as this adversary or something to compete against,’ says Moiloa. ‘We see it as a tool, as all tools have been. It’s this thing that helps us do more with less.’

Generative wonder

When AI merges with human curiosity, it finds new ways to push the boundaries of discovery, allowing a new kind of world exploration beyond previously set limits. In 2022, a team of researchers from Japan’s Osaka University employed AI technology to analyse and interpret human brain scans. Their study involved training text-to-image generative AIs known as Stable Diffusionthrough text prompts and datasets containing information from brain regions associated with image perception. Remarkably, AI could recreate what people see when reading their brain scans. Researchers hope that with further refinements the process could be used to intercept human thoughts and see dreams.

AI has emerged as an indispensable tool for astronomers worldwide, thanks to its exceptional ability to analyse vast amounts of data swiftly. In 2023, a research team of South African astronomers used AI-powered machine learning to sift through signals that don’t correspond to known phenomena and made AI’s first discovery in astronomy. They found a unique, ring-like radio source with quadrilateral structure thought to be a remnant of the explosive merging of two supermassive black holes. If this proves to be true, the AI-extracted data will enable a new test of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. 

Analysis: what this means

AI is a new screwdriver, hammer, spanner and piece of kit added to humanity’s ever-expanding toolbox. Many business owners are enthusiastic that the technology will benefit them. The majority of respondents to a Forbes US survey, 64%, anticipate that AI will improve customer relationships and increase productivity, while 60% expect AI to drive sales growth (source: Forbes). According to the public policy think tank American Enterprise Institute, AI investment could approach 1% of US GDP by 2030 if it increases at the same pace as software investment in the 1990s.

Building robust ethical frameworks around these new technologies as consumers integrate them more firmly into our lives will be necessary. But artificial intelligence won’t be better than humans. ‘This idea of surpassing human ability is silly,’ says American computer scientist and futurist Jaron Lanier, ‘because it’s made of human abilities.' He adds: ‘It’s like saying a car can go faster than a human runner. Of course it can, and yet we don’t say that the car has become a better runner.’

'This idea of surpassing human ability is silly because it’s made of human abilities'
Jaron Lanier, American computer scientist and futurist

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