AI: revolution or augmentation?
In this edition of the Horizons, we discuss what role artificial intelligence will play in the transition to sustainability. Meanwhile, as investments and development ramp up, AI is rapidly advancing into more unexpected territories, including the world of creativity and art.
Is AI smart enough for a sustainable future?
Despite a hefty ecological footprint of its own, digital technology has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable future. A recent study highlights the fact that AI is particularly suited to imsprove existing processes. By analyzing tons of data from operational plants and factories, AI is able to control processes much more precisely than human operators can and, in doing so, save energy and reduce waste. The use of AI for environmental applications could potentially boost global GDP by 4.4% while also reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 4% by 2030. However, while optimizing existing processes is a good thing, in most cases, such incremental improvements are not sufficient to make processes truly sustainable. To do so, more radical innovation – i.e. transformation – is needed. That requires genuine creativity; to think outside the box of known parameters and come up with revolutionary solutions, such as new energy systems. Going forward, the question is thus whether data, AI and other digital tools can contribute to such a creative process. In that respect, the recent surge of ‘creative’ AIs is promising, although human input will nevertheless remain essential.
Broaden Your Horizons
- Generative AI models can now create images from text prompts within a few seconds. Bloomberg’s Dina Bass analyzes one worrying downside: their lack of filters allows them to perpetuate stereotypes and produce graphic content.
- The US government recently unveiled an AI Bill of Rights, aimed at protecting its citizens in the age of artificial intelligence.
- NYT’s Adam Satariano discusses the success of Dutch e-bike company VanMoof and its potential to help reshape urban transportation.
The unexpected rise of generative AI
In the age of artificial intelligence, art and creativity have always been viewed as exclusively human domains. Recent advancements have proved otherwise. Generative AI models such as Dall-E and Google’s Imagen are making headlines with their capability to create detailed images based on simple text prompts. Based on its success and popularity, some analysts predict generative AI could soon revolutionize the entire creative industry. Indeed, AI-generated images are already winning art competitions and providing newspaper covers. Sequoia Capital even claims generative AI has the potential to generate trillions of dollars of economic value in the future. However, generative AI models do have some major drawbacks. For instance, their output is dependent on large amounts of existing data, which causes issues around copyright and biased imagery that still need to be solved. For now, it seems more likely that generative AI will simply become another tool to augment human creativity, as many artists and graphic designers are already adopting the models to inspire their work or speed up productivity.
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