Transformative Possibilities: AI Technology has Far-Reaching Applications and Implications

The newest transformative technology – artificial intelligence, or AI – is here and it’s transforming businesses and industries across the board. Once found only in the pages of sci-fi novels, artificial intelligence is changing the way companies assess their processes and serve their clientele but also brings myriad new challenges as far as security and the long-term implications of a brave new world.

“There’s a quote I keep seeing which is, paraphrased, ‘AI will only replace you if you don’t figure out how to use it,’” said Bobbi Christensen, chair of IP practice at Koley Jessen. “The use of AI should, in a perfect world, free up the time of a professional to provide higher-level services to their clients. 

“At the same time, every ‘pro’ that I can list can also, in the wrong hands, be a ‘con’ and many of them will arise from simple laziness or carelessness on the part of the user.”

Christensen said in the legal world, AI offers the opportunity for significant time savings while delivering greater accuracy in document creation.

“Some of the most positive applications in the AI field for legal purposes are the ability to automate routine work that consumes time,” she said. “It also has the potential to reduce or eliminate human error. 

“An AI application that can scan a document and summarize its terms, as well as look for inconsistency in provisions or missing provisions, has the potential to provide great efficiency. It can also serve as the second pair of eyes for a document that a legal professional has been drafting or reviewing.”

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Big Benefits, Big Challenges

On the other hand, leaning too heavily on technology opens up wide-ranging ethical problems. 

“An entire article could be devoted just to the biggest challenges or concerns of AI from a legal perspective,” she said. “The potential for malpractice and ethical violations is huge. You still have to review, and critically evaluate and challenge any content that is produced via AI. You can’t disclose client information. You have to watch for bias.”

In addition to adapting to the technology as a firm, Christensen said Koley Jessen attorneys are fielding more questions from clients about the legal ramifications of AI in their respective industries.

“We are getting a fair number of questions regarding intellectual property rights and ownership rights in content that is partially or wholly created by AI tools,” she said. “In general, it feels like clients are just trying to figure out how to issue-spot where the use of AI could get them in trouble. A lot depends on the industry you are in, how regulated that industry is, and how technology-dependent or content-dependent your business is.”

The technology is also heavily in play in the service and retail sector, according to Nate Decker, technology instructor and regional coordinator for the AIM Institute.

“AI can bring positive developments like personalized customer experiences, chatbots for instant customer support and sales forecasting for optimized inventory management,” he said. “As these advancements enhance the customer experience, they also will provide tailored recommendations, faster customer support and improved product availability. 

“Companies that utilize AI will be able to streamline their operations, automate most of their tasks, and make data-driven decisions that lead to higher customer satisfaction and overall improved efficiency. For example, picture walking into a store and picking up the item you want to purchase and then walking back out without paying or using your phone to pay. Amazon has already implemented this technology and AI is making it more mainstream for smaller companies to utilize.”

Leveling the Field

Artificial intelligence also has the potential to be a great equalizer in the marketplace, giving small to medium-sized companies a legitimate fighting chance against behemoth competitors, especially in the retail world.

“AI will present realistic opportunities to level the playing field when it comes to small to medium businesses and larger competitors,” Decker said. “They will be able to utilize AI to enhance customer segmentation and personalize marketing of their business or products. AI also will help with process automation and create a unique customer experience. This will enable them to compete effectively, strengthen their consumer market, and cater to the evolving demands of the consumer.”

Decker said for all of these benefits, entrepreneurs should take steps now to understand how AI works and the applications that can best serve their businesses in the marketplace.

“Entrepreneurs and SMB owners should understand that AI is accessible and can be tailored to their specific needs. There is a range of current applications that can implement automation and tailored needs to businesses of any kind,” he said. “Collaborating with AI service providers and exploring different AI platforms and tools will empower businesses to leverage AI’s potential for growth and success.

“Making sure someone in the organization is staying up to date on AI advancements and new tools will keep them on the cutting edge of the growing technology. AIM Institute is committed to supporting small businesses in Omaha by providing resources, training and mentorship in AI adoption to drive their technological transformation.”

In the banking and financial sectors, AI is providing similar paths to greater efficiency. Per George Wehbe, chief operating officer, banking with Fiserv, these include robust fraud detection algorithms to protect clients, enhanced marketing intelligence to empower consumers to make informed decisions, services that expand financial inclusion to underserved populations, and radically increased speed in fixing back-office incidents.

Security at Premium

The reach of the technology is so great, it’s driving in-depth conversations about security like never before, Wehbe said.

“As we’ve seen in the news, it’s important to build enhanced operating protocols and control mechanisms to adhere to ethical considerations, mitigate potential risks to data privacy and eliminate algorithmic biases,” he said. “For AI models to learn, they require a constant flow of potentially sensitive and sometimes highly personal data, including social security numbers, banking details and even biometrics.   

“As companies and consumers use more AI in their decision-making, it will become increasingly difficult to understand the AI-developed algorithms and the way data is used. The fintech industry must ensure an ongoing balance between the expanded use of innovative AI and the potential risks to data security.”

Wehbe said to carry this responsibility effectively, companies must align themselves with technology partners who are as concerned about mitigating potential issues as they are. 

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses should identify areas where AI can have the most significant impact on business operations or customer experience and consider collaborating with AI providers and their fintech partners to avoid having to build everything in-house,” he said. 

“Collaboration and partnerships can help small- to medium-sized businesses safely navigate the complexities and ever-changing AI landscape to ensure timely and effective utilization.”

It’s difficult if not wholly impossible to fully assess the long-term implications artificial intelligence will have on the business world but given how quickly the technology has already rooted itself, business leaders who try to ignore it do so at their peril. 

“I personally believe AI will never replace humans,” Wehbe said. “Nevertheless, to be competitive in today’s workplace and to deliver on the promise of AI requires new training, new skills, and the confidence to embrace a culture of invention and innovation.

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