As the fantasy of autonomous vehicles becomes a reality, the thought of thousands of self-driving cars on the roads fills many people with fear and trepidation. The loss of control and the lack of understanding of the technologies in action often leads to people suggesting that they would be reluctant to trust their lives to computers.
Yet the reality is that machines make far fewer mistakes than humans and the likelihood of road traffic collisions will be significantly reduced once we take people out of the equation. Yes, there will be teething problems and the technology is not currently where it needs to be in order to roll out onto the roads today. But there is little doubt that a fully automated network of cars with advanced safety and traffic control systems will be far more dependable than humans – who can be distracted by phones and passengers; who can become fatigued; who may lack coordination or reaction times; or who simply lack the skill to negotiate a situation effectively.
In other aspects of daily life we are also generally suspicious of AI – even though we are already much more dependent on this advanced technology than we would perhaps like to admit. From the machine learning that powers our social media algorithms to the computing power that helps to streamline administrative tasks within organisations, AI is already proven in many fields and industries.
It is thought that by 2030, AI will have boosted the global economy by $15.7tn (according to a report by consultancy PwC). So, if we are going to lean on these technologies to such a great extent in the future, experts are fast-becoming aware of the need to build public trust in them.
Issues of inherent bias and AI demonstrating a poor grasp of ethics are two key factors at play in this equation. And they perhaps represent the final barrier that must be overcome before we as a society choose to fully embrace the potential of intelligence that is not human.
Baby steps with basic tasks
Building trust in AI begins in small steps, by proving that it can enhance our work lives by relievingus from boring and repetitive tasks, and by improving productivity. Currently, this comes in the form of intelligent tools for administrative tasks where artificial intelligence is being used with great success to enhance the speed, accuracy and cost effectiveness of paperwork duties.
Contract analysis software from service providers such as Cortical.io is helping to relieve the burden of reading large volumes of documents or scrolling through a large number ofmessages. In organisations where hundreds or even thousands of agreements require review on tight deadlines, the use of contract intelligence tools can be of great benefit. Indeed, teams don’t have to spend their precious time sifting through tons of pages, an intelligent software executes this task for them. As a result, the experts are able to better assess risks and liabilities, quickly compare sensitive clauses and create a more standardised legal framework. And they can dedicate more time to higher value tasks.
Do not confuse contract analysis software withsimple tools such as spell-checking and proofreading. Instead, these applications perform meaning-based extractions, search and comparison, demonstrating an understanding of concepts rather than just keywords.
While larger organisations have, of course, been the first to adopt these kinds of technologies, the growing trust in admin-based AI is enabling smaller businesses to tap into the same tools. For SMEs with smaller budgets, the savings that can be made by investing in a simple tool rather than draining internal resources can arguably have a greater impact.
Ultimately, our trust in AI will grow on the basis of performance. As computers repeatedly demonstrate their value we will undoubtedly become more comfortable with our growing reliance on them. That begins with paperwork . . . but who knows where it will end?