Artificial Intelligence: The Foremost Disruptive Technology of Our Time

Artificial Intelligence: The Foremost Disruptive Technology of Our Time
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the leading discipline in the present digital revolution. Building capacity in this area is of vital importance to the longevity of our economies. I would even say that it is one of the most important innovations in the history of mankind as everything will be enabled by AI technology. We cannot get away from this and need to prepare our younger generations to play an active part in the AI boom which has just started. We can see how important AI has been in the recent COVID epidemic that has affected the entire globe, with companies able to analyze virus epidemiology, crunch data as well as model and simulate to develop vaccines in record time using AI based technology.
We need to be following the example of China, the great country that has made AI a mandatory part of its educational strategy to make the country a global leader in AI innovation by 2030. China is planting the seeds of AI education now in order to reap the benefits in the future. We need to be doing the same in all countries to ensure that we secure our place in the growing digital economy. According to Forbes, AI will add $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030. This is four times larger than the GDP of the entire MENA region in 2020 which was $3 trillion. This represents a massive opportunity that we must take advantage of. We owe it to the younger generation to invest in such education so that they have the needed skills to help power future AI based economies.
I have been repeatedly privileged to speak at international technology events. The question I am constantly asked is: “Won’t AI technology replace humans and take over their jobs?" Of course not I constantly affirm.
I see a different scenario unfolding.
I believe that AI will free workers to exercise better judgement and perform more valuable tasks by using AI systems to provide greater accuracy and insights and in turn deliver greater value. The “Future of Jobs Report 2020” published by the World Economic Forum also backs this and suggests that 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines by 2025, while 97 million new roles may emerge, that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms which include AI systems. Rather than jobs being lost to AI, jobs will be created by it. With volumes of big data being produced by sensors, systems and the mass adoption of the Internet of Things, there will be no alternative but to use AI systems to make sense of this huge amount of data in order to help decision making. AI will revolutionize many sectors making them more streamlined and efficient.
A discipline that I see AI affecting in a major way is the auditing profession. Auditing is the foundation on which TAG.Global was established and as an auditor myself, I can tell you that the auditing profession is going to be revolutionized by AI. The huge amount of data being produced by organizational systems will make it very difficult to perform manual audits as there will be simply too much data to analyze. AI systems will be used to perform detailed audits that would otherwise be impossible to conduct. The profession will become more of an IT specialty and in the very near future auditors will need skills in AI; both to conduct audits as well as to evaluate AI systems used by companies to provide assurance regarding their accuracy and transparency.
I have called for reform of the education system globally and have been saying for many years that our education curricula needs to move into the 21st century to empower our digital natives with the knowledge and the skills to become knowledge workers. AI is among the forefront of disciplines that children must be taught. Technology has become basis of developed economies worldwide, and the reason for existence for some of the largest companies the world has ever seen such as Apple, Google and Amazon. The global economy is no longer bound by geographic boundaries and the age of the Internet means that anyone can become a knowledge worker if he has the zeal and passion.
Digital opportunities are available for the IT literate and we must take full advantage of this fact. We need to be producing AI literate 'knowledge workers' to meet the demands of the digital global economy. We must properly educate and foster an environment for technology innovation and creativity, empowering people with the education, tools and laws to create an ecosystem to enable the future 'Zuckerbergs' to come about. Building capacity in AI will also allow us to build systems to help find novel solutions to problems the world is facing with regards to climate change, water shortage and food production. As Plato said 'Necessity is the mother of invention'.
We need scientists, innovators and thinkers to act responsibility with foresight and wisdom for the sake of our future generations and invest in AI education as it is set to revolutionize the world.


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