The speed at which artificial intelligence (AI) evolves and integrates into our lives is only going to increase in 2024.
As companies learn to unlock its potential, individuals use it to boost productivity, and legislators scratch their heads over-regulating it, AI will become increasingly omnipresent in everything we do.
Hopefully, 2024 will see us making headway towards solving some of the thorny issues around this technology. Though barriers to entry due to cost and ease of use may have crumbled in recent years, there are still issues around trust, bias, accessibility and regulation.
Focusing on solving these problems could put us on track to unlocking the full potential of AI as we head towards the second half of the decade.
Beyond Words And Pictures
The next generation of generative AI tools will go far beyond the chatbots and image generators that have amazed and sometimes scared us in 2023. Generative video and music creators are already appearing, and they will become more powerful and user-friendly. We will start to see them embedded into creative platforms and productivity tools, just as we have seen with ChatGPT technology this year. New and exciting applications will appear, such as generative design tools and voice synthesizers. Being able to tell the difference between the real and the computer-generated will become an increasingly valuable tool in the critical skills toolbox!
AI has the potential to be so disruptive that it’s essential that it is developed and used in a responsible way that minimizes its potential to cause harm. We already know some of the dangerous factors – bias, a lack of transparency, the potential to displace human jobs and our inability to say, with 100 percent certainty, that it’s never going to get out of control. In 2024, we will see continued focus on mitigating these problems and remaining vigilant for new ones. AI ethicists will be increasingly in demand as businesses seem to demonstrate that they are adhering to ethical standards and deploying appropriate safeguards.
AI In Customer Service
Customer service can be an area of business operations where a lot of routine, repetitive procedures are interspersed with occasional deeply complex and critical tasks. This makes it an ideal testbed for integrating AI into processes, automating the mundane in order to free up human time for issues that need a human touch. AI can be used to triage initial contact calls, generate personalized solutions to common problems, and generate reports and summaries of customer interactions. A Boston Consulting Group survey found that 95 percent of customer service leaders expect their customers will be served by AI bots at some point in the next three years.
Understanding how we can augment our human intelligence and capabilities in order to do our jobs faster, more efficiently and more safely will be an important workplace skill in 2024. If you’re a legal eagle, it will help you quickly summarize relevant case law or speed up the drafting of contracts. Doctors will use it to assist them in writing up patient notes or medical images. Coders will use it to speed up writing software and to test and debug their output. If you're a student, it can help you organize notes and research, and if you're unemployed, it will help you write your CV and draft cover letters.
This year, everyone was rushing to build generative AI functions into their software and applications. From search engines like Bing and Google to productivity tools like Office, social apps like Snapchat, and industry-specific platforms such as Expedia (travel) and Coursera (education), adding chatbot functionality is emerging as an effective strategy for driving next-generation customer experience. Service providers may have been holding off due to uncertainty over data protection and customer privacy issues, but these should start to be resolved as AI providers adapt their services to meet market requirements. An example is Adobe’s integration of generative AI into its Firefly design tools, trained entirely on proprietary data, to alleviate fears that copyright and ownership could be a problem in the future.
Low-Code And No-Code Software Engineering
Back in 2019, Gartner predicted that 65 percent of application development would be done with low-code/no-code tools by 2024. This may very well turn out to be correct, as generative AI tools like ChatGPT allow anyone to create and test applications in a matter of minutes. Although I don’t see coding and software engineering jobs vanishing in 2024 (someone needs to make the AI tools in the first place, after all), there will be a lot of exciting opportunities for people who have good ideas and a love of solving problems, but not necessarily hard technical skills.
If you want to work in AI but don’t want to be a computer scientist, then good news – a whole load of new job opportunities are opening up in 2024 that could suit you. As well as the engineers and technicians needed to build systems, we’ll see openings for roles such as prompt engineers, who create the instructions to tell AI applications what to do, and AI managers, who oversee teams of virtual workers. There will also be a growing need for AI project managers, trainers, and ethicists. On the other hand, if you are a techie, there will be plenty of new jobs for you, too, in fields like AI engineering and DevOps.
Perhaps not a trend that will affect everyone right away. But quantum computing – capable of massively speeding up certain calculation-heavy compute workloads – is increasingly being found to have applications in AI. Quantum algorithms process data using qubits that spookily exist in more than one state at a time, as opposed to traditional computer bits that can only ever be 1 or 0. This is one of the features that makes them far more efficient than classical algorithms for problems like optimization – determining the best combinations of many different variables – that are commonly tackled with machine learning. During 2024, I expect to see more progress in applying quantum computing in order to power ever larger and more complex neural networks and algorithms.
Upskilling For The AI Revolution
It's frequently said these days that AI won't take jobs, but people who use AI will take jobs from those who don't. If you want to get ahead, understanding how AI impacts your own job or profession and developing the ability to match the right tool to the task is a super-smart idea. Forward-looking employers will be looking to assist their workforces in this transition by integrating AI skills into education and training programs. If yours isn’t, there’s a huge number of resources online, many of them free. So dive in, and you’ll be able to find a much better employer in no time!
Legislators have never been great at keeping pace with technology, but the obviously game-changing nature of AI is starting to make them sit up and take note. China already has some laws in place – including laws prohibiting the production of non-consensual deepfakes. And jurisdictions, including the EU, US and India, are developing their own sets of regulations. The UK has proposed a bill that will potentially come into force in 2024, and an EU act is predicted to be in place by the start of 2025. Each piece of legislation will seek to strike a balance between protecting citizens from the negative impact of AI on jobs and privacy, for example, and enabling innovation and commerce. The debate around where the lines are drawn is likely to be a prominent element of political discourse during 2024.