Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t something out of sci-fi novel — it’s here, being used right this second by technology experts, businesses, and the average person like you or me. Despite moving from fantasy to everyday reality, there’s plenty of hang-ups regarding AI. For one, people fear the power of AI. What if it gets in the wrong hands? Can it be used nefariously? Others wonder if it’s truly better to rely on machines to do tasks humans were once responsible for.
In this SWOT analysis of artificial intelligence, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of AI will be broken down for you to understand the pros and cons of using this advanced form of technology in varying instances.
The strengths of artificial intelligence
Increase workplace productivity.
Rather than spending hours of manpower on menial, repeatable tasks, employees can configure artificial intelligence to manage it instead. Although we’ve already used machines on the production lines before, AI allows us to manage a multitude of tasks more efficiently than before.
This is beneficial for all companies. By having technology manage everyday tasks (rather than humans) companies save money. It lowers operations costs and even noncompliance fees.
Adopted into many industries.
AI is now used in a variety of industries, ranging from digital marketing to healthcare. The type and sophistication of the AI needed depend on the task — you’ll need less power to automate emails than sorting through a registry of patient information, for example. It’s not just for sorting information either; we’re also seeing AI used in facial recognition and academic research too.
Better quality of life.
AI is used outside of the workplace as well. Within the home, people who have smart speakers and light bulbs are using AI too. These devices make managing the home easier and can reduce the cost of electricity. You can even find AI in your car, so long as you’re buying a brand like Tesla.
In some ways, it’s strange. Only a few years ago, artificial intelligence was found only in sci-fi books, games, and movies. Now it’s commonplace, despite not reaching even its full capabilities yet.
The weaknesses of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence remains inhuman.
You know by now that artificial intelligence is a form of technology. It can be a machine or an algorithm. But of course, it’s not human. And this last point remains a strength and a weakness simultaneously. As a strength, it means people working in jobs requiring a touch of “humanity” feel safe — their job isn’t up for grabs by our technological overlords quite yet.
But as a weakness, this means AI is limited. It’s a tool but not necessarily a solution. AI can communicate, but it can’t communicate emotionally. And so, although it can use information, it won’t be able to grasp or react to the complexities of human emotion.
The chance to outsmart us.
Developers are always pushing to redefine the limits of AI. Right now, it’s able to complete a task, learn, and retain information. But maybe, in the future, it’ll get to the point of improving and redesigning without human input. It’s this potential reality that makes people remember the robotic overthrowing in the movie I, Robot.
Governments are slow on the uptake.
Technological experts, like Elon Musk, have warned against artificial intelligence, believing that we need to be smart about how we use it. And how do we use it? This prompts the question of ethics. Is there a line for the ethical use of AI? Bills, regulations, and laws aren’t keeping up with the rapid development of technology. Even Congress doesn’t fully understand how the internet works, so what hope is there for the ethical use of AI?
And yet, despite the fear caused by AI, it does come with a fair share of opportunities.
Opportunities of artificial intelligence
Combing AI with newer forms of tech.
Artificial intelligence is connected to other new forms of technology, including machine learning, deep learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). It’ll likely be adopted into programming, enabling developers to reverse problem solve. This allows for enhanced responses to problems, which may benefit other industries, like customer service.
Smart cars drive progress for people with disabilities.
Right at this moment, we’re seeing the adoption of AI into the automobile market. Tesla car models use it to self-drive on the highway and park without human assistance. Obviously, this is something straight out of a science fiction novel (aka cool as heck) but it’s also beneficial for people who have disabilities and has impacted their driving ability.
Less strain on employees.
And as I said in the strengths section of this SWOT analysis, AI allows us to automate boring, trivial tasks. This is perfect for people who dread taking care of these tasks and would rather focus on the “big picture”. Entrepreneurs or startups who have employees wearing a lot of hats and are stretched thin will love AI for this.
And although there are plenty of opportunities for AI, this technology has just as many (or more) threats.
The threats of artificial intelligence
People believe the adoption of artificial intelligence will lead to job loss. And honestly, this is happening at a small scale. Think about those self-checkouts at Walmart. There’s several of them and only one or two employees stepping in whenever a customer has a problem.
No more humans working the cashier is a viable future for corporations. This is one example of AI taking over simple human tasks, but also taking away job opportunities. To combat this, the job market will need to evolve. Rather than being replaced, humans will need to work alongside AI. Whether this is a viable future is yet to be determined.
Will we lose control?
People wonder — will AI become so intelligent, humans can’t control it any longer? This seems like a far off fear, but it may be closer than you think.
IBM has a supercomputer named Watson, who appeared on and won more than $5 million on the game show Jeopardy back 2011. Watson is hooked up to the cloud and uses machine learning and analytical software. It proved to be smarter than humans (at least in finding, using, and retaining information quickly) on the show eight years ago — and this is when artificial intelligence was “new”. Is it possible for Watson (or similar supercomputers) to eventually become sentient? It’s too soon to tell, and this is the threat people feel.
What happens when AI gets it wrong?
AI is used in the diagnosis of medical conditions. In fact, it’s been known to find diagnoses quicker than humans. But what if the computer gets it wrong? Or if the technology is corrupted by a virus and changed? The repercussions of premature or completely wrong diagnoses could lead to fatalities.
See, the biggest threat to AI is the “what if” of it all. Since technology is constantly tested and advanced, we don’t know the limits. And that’s both exciting and terrifying.
SWOT Analysis of Artificial Intelligence: Final thoughts
Artificial intelligence is here and it isn’t going anywhere. The possibilities are endless, and this drives experts to keep advancing it. However, some of the public worries — about the future of jobs, and even of humankind.
AI isn’t evil though — it takes over mundane tasks to free up our time. It’s ported into various forms of technology, like smart bulbs, to reduce electricity use and emissions. It’s also helping to diagnose conditions early in healthcare — in the right hands, AI has the ability to increase our quality of life. We just need to keep an eye (and hand) on it.
Image by Gerd Altmann