G’day, I’m Lee Hopkins, and this is bcr vidcast edition 108.
Three things to consider today: AI and the pharmaceutical industry; will AI kill off too many jobs? and three more predictions about our lives and how artificial intelligence and machine learning will impact them.
AI and the pharmaceutical industry.
Pharmaceutical companies are adopting an ‘Us WITH Them’ approach to AI.
‘Augmented intelligence’ is the catchphrase that Pamela Spence uses; Pamela is EY’s global sector leader for life sciences.
Data is being analysed by algorithms, then suggestions are made to human decision-makers. AI is not making decisions by itself. At least not yet. Spence feels that pharma is a long way off from handing over decision-making to algorithms.
There’s no doubt that AI is useful. What drug works for me might not work for someone else, but AI can help match me with the most appropriate cocktail, or else point my name to a pharma company with a new drug that seems tailor-made for me. I have no qualms with that.
Lisa LaMotta over at BioPharmaDive has a long list of pharmaceutical companies who have invested in AI — worth checking out to see what the big guns are up to.
But it remains a fact that it’s only the big guns that can afford AI at the moment. The data needed to get reliable AI suggestions is substantial, and that costs money.
I note that smaller companies, not in the pharma space, are developing products and services with AI, but the heavy-lifting required for complex data analysis is still the preserve of companies with deep pockets.
Will AI steal everybody’s job?
Consultancy.uk report on some of the latest research on AI and job losses. They suggest that up to 700,000 jobs will go in the UK, mostly from the manufacturing sector.
That level of labour-market disruption will need skilful management by politicians. Not only will they need to manage the disappointments and mental health of displaced workers, but a significant amount of money will suddenly not be floating around in the economy, impacting on taxes and welfare spending.
There is a range of outcomes predicted; McKinsey and Co estimate that over 60% of work activities could be augmented by AI.
That contrasts with careers website Joblift, who pessimistically assert that AI will only replace 19% of the jobs it ‘takes’.
PwC estimates that the share of jobs lost to AI (around 20%) will be roughly the same as the jobs that AI will create.
PwC suggests that the UK Government should invest more in ‘STEAM’ skills that will be most useful to people in this increasingly automated world.
While this does mean pushing for schools to focus more on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), it also means Britain should explore how art and design – the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM’ – can feature at the heart of innovation.
It is not solely about educating new labour, though, and PwC also states that governments have a responsibility to encourage workers to continually update and adapt their skills so as to complement what new machines and AI can do.
Meanwhile, the UK Government should strengthen the state’s safety net for those who find it hard to adjust to technological changes.
Euan Cameron, UK AI leader at PwC, commented, “It’s likely that the fourth industrial revolution will favour those with strong digital skills, as well as capabilities like creativity and teamwork which machines find it harder to replicate.”
Three AI and ML predictions
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are currently hot topics in the business press. Daniel Newman over at Forbes gives a rundown of what to expect in the next 18 months.
Firstly, there will be further penetration of AI and ML into the business world. The US Army, for example, is looking to AI to help it predict when machinery will need repair. Now, imagine your car being able to tell you that.
Google is also going to increase its bold march into the personal health space. Already it can predict, with 95% accuracy, when someone is going to die, within 24 hours of admittance to a hospital. This level of input into healthcare will continue apace.
Thirdly, 2019 will be the year of the Digital Assistant. Already Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa have made inroads into our lives. This will continue. I use Siri to help me navigate my way around traffic blockages. Kia and Hyundai are planning to include digital assistants in their cars, to make our lives even easier.
“We will begin using these assistants for every day, operational tasks such as searching the internet, reading emails, responding to communication and even paying bills and ordering products”—Daniel Newman
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