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AI – have you started yet?

The publishing world, indeed the whole business world, will soon divide into those that have started to think through AI and those that are avoiding the subject…

By James Evelegh

AI – have you started yet?

With the huge amount of hype surrounding generative AI, it is perhaps not surprising that some people have fallen into the trap of thinking that ‘AI’ and ‘generative AI’ are synonymous.

That would be a mistake.

AI is a broad range of technologies, of which generative AI is one strand.

The right AI solution for your business might not be generative AI at all, but another AI technology altogether, or a combination of different AIs.

The potential for misunderstanding is not helped by the amorphousness of the subject matter.

Helen Margetts, professor of society and the internet, Mansfield College, University of Oxford, speaking at the New Scientist’s recent ‘AI Unleashed’ conference, said that if she were to ask five of her colleagues for a definition, she would likely get five different answers.

For what it’s worth, here is one definition, from the Alan Turing Institute’s website, “The design and study of machines that can perform tasks that would previously have required human (or other biological) brainpower to accomplish.”

I also liked the one on the Information Commissioner’s Office website: Artificial intelligence is “an umbrella term for a range of algorithm-based technologies that solve complex tasks by carrying out functions that previously required human thinking.”

Artificial intelligence is going to make a seismic difference to all our working lives, so companies – including publishers – need to double-down on working out what AI is and how it can help their business.

A divide will soon open up between those individuals and companies that have engaged properly with the technology and those that haven’t.

According to a recent report from IBM, “AI won’t replace people – but people who use AI will replace people who don’t.”

The IBM report goes on to say that job augmentation is a more likely outcome of integrating generative AI into your company than job replacement: “87% of executives believe job roles are more likely to be augmented than automated.”

A report from Goldman Sachs in the spring found that, “if generative AI delivers on its promised capabilities, the labour market could face significant disruption.” The report found that two-thirds of jobs are currently exposed to AI automation in some form.

According to the investment firm, up to 7% of US jobs could be entirely replaced by AI with 63% being complemented by AI-powered tools, with 30% being unaffected.

The AI genie is out of the bottle and won’t go back in. We all need to engage properly with AI, in all its guises, or be rapidly overtaken by those who have made the effort to.

Exciting, a little bit daunting, and a top priority for every business.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list to receive the magazine, please register here.