Post-coronavirus, AI as a technology will be omnipresent in humans’ work, home and health.
The coronavirus will have a dual and adverse impact on people across the globe. Not only will it impact lives through sickness and death, but it will also dramatically damage their economic well-being. Technological innovation comes to the fore at the time of such pivotal crises. While cloud computing burst on the scene after the 2008 financial crisis, it may be AI’s turn to take center stage amidst, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic.
How coronavirus will boost AI use cases
In healthcare, AI is being used to rapidly discover potential new drugs or vaccines to counter the coronavirus. As humans perish from the virus across the world, AI could shave off years of research in these efforts.
Already, AI, in conjunction with specialized cameras, is helping to identify fever-laden individuals for virus actions such as quarantine or hospitalization.
Again, the coronavirus-induced recession will force businesses to trim costs through automation. The restrictions imposed in the battle against the virus have forced workplaces to shut.
Companies will naturally adopt AI, machine learning and advanced software to mechanize call centers, warehouses, grocery stores, and delivery operations. The demand for contactless deliveries will see automated, driverless vehicles and drones turning up at homes. They will deliver essential supplies including medicines.
AI will play a growing role in this business transformation.
Questions will arise on the fate of human beings replaced by technology. Though workers will perhaps be freed up for more quality roles, the concerns surrounding job security are legitimate.
Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends survey reveals that more than a third of employees expect their jobs to be replaced in three years.
Legitimate surveillance or big-brother intrusion?
In the battle against the coronavirus, governments are using every means in their possession to track down people in the virus transmission chain. These include electronic and AI-supported tools such as surveillance cameras, smartphone locations, credit card transaction records, thermal imaging cameras, facial and object recognition algorithms, and augmented reality cameras.
But where does one draw the line?
In a “joint civil society statement,” organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, AI Now, and 104 others have urged the authorities to respect human rights when they deploy these technologies.
The new normal
The dilemma of business reality versus job security will persist post-corona. So will the trade-off between legitimate surveillance and invasion of privacy.
People should prepare for the “new rules of the new normal” by reskilling themselves so that they can win alternate employment.
Governments should lay down strict rules regarding the use of surveillance, particularly ending its use when the crisis blows over.