NESA by Makers / Unsplash Microsoft believes that every business will be an AI business in the next five years but there are concerns that people don’t fully understand the technology and will be left behind in the AI revolution.
Ahead of Future Decoded , the tech giant’s annual conference at the ExCel Centre in London, it released a new report, named Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI , covering how businesses across the UK are using the technology.
The report shows that there is more awareness and adoption of AI overall among businesses, with 56 per cent of businesses adopting AI. However, less than a quarter of these organisations (24 per cent) have an AI strategy and 96 per cent of employees surveyed reporting that their bosses are adding AI without consulting them on the technology. This is fuelling anxiety around the technology, as well as concerns over job security.
“Based on the progress we’re seeing, we believe that every company will be an AI company in five years,” Microsoft’s UK COO Clare Barclay told the Standard . “As organisations start to use or think about using [AI], we want to encourage more open dialogue on this topic. Read more “Open communication is absolutely critical.”
To encourage discussions and education around AI, Microsoft is launching a new AI Business School in the UK. It has currently been running as a pilot for the past 12 months, and focuses on explaining the technology of AI, how it can inform strategies and the culture around it. For instance, one aspect of the programme will focus on the ethical decisions leaders have to make when it comes to AI, including how to construct and implement an ethical AI framework.
But it’s not just for business leaders; while it will function as a physical space, there are also plans to implement online workshops for anyone to access. “We want to make sure we’re driving broad skills development. We’ve made a commitment to train 30,000 public sector employees and 500,000 UK citizens as part of that,” adds Barclay.
Microsoft isn’t the only tech company examining the role of AI in the UK. Recently, Samsung launched its new FAIR Future Initiative, which aims to educate the public on AI in order to involve everyone in the deployment of the tech. According to research carried out by Samsung, which surveyed the views of 5,250 people in the UK and Ireland, 51 per cent feel AI will have a positive impact on society as a whole, however around 90 per cent of people feel it is too complex to understand.
“That’s a significant challenge,” Teg Dosanjh, director of Connected Living at Samsung UK and Ireland, told the Standard . “We want to tackle that by having an online hub, so people can understand what AI is today, the terminology and demystifying it, and raise awareness around that.”
As well as the FAIR Future online hub , Samsung is taking its FAIR Future work on the road to encourage people across the UK to get ‘hands-on’ with the tech. Its first stop will be at the Norwich Science Festival later this month.
Samsung has been in the AI space for a while, particularly when it comes to smart devices and appliances in the home with its Connected Things platform. So why is now the time right for it to investigate attitudes to AI in real life? Dosanjh says it comes from the way the technology is accelerating.
“We’re not talking about just algorithms anymore – typically consistent calculations – but you’ve got these neural networks. And the technology and the capabilities of neural networks and machine learning have developed significantly over the last five years.”
He believes the onus is on tech companies to explain what’s going on in the industry. The survey found that most people gained knowledge on AI from the media, word of mouth and fiction – leaving governments and tech companies languishing behind. “We haven’t done a very good job of bringing people on the journey with us on AI. So we have to start at some point and involve everyone in that discussion.
“More of our lives and society are going to be impacted by AI and we’ve got to be very conscious of how we capitalise and bring those opportunities to life.”