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The Coming AI Spring

Artificial intelligence can generate tremendous value for us all, if policymakers and businesses act swiftly and smartly to capture its full benefits and mitigate the inevitable risks. The long-awaited “AI spring” may finally be arriving, but we will need to be prepared to manage its onset with care.

LONDON – Artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us, generating excitement about how it could increase prosperity and transform our lives in multiple ways. Yet the technology is also likely to be disruptive. Policymakers and businesses must therefore try to capture the full value of what AI has to offer, while avoiding the downside risks.

The idea of AI has been around for more than a half-century, and we have lived through previous periods of excitement followed by long stretches of disappointment – “AI winters” – when the tech didn’t live up to the hype. But recent progress in AI algorithms and techniques, combined with a massive increase in computing power and an explosion in the amount of available data, has driven significant and tangible advances, promising to generate value for individuals, businesses, and society as a whole.

Companies are already applying AI techniques in sales and marketing to make personalized product recommendations to individual customers. And in manufacturing, AI is improving predictive maintenance by applying “deep learning” to high volumes of data from sensors. By deploying algorithms to detect anomalies, firms can reduce the downtime of machinery and equipment, from jet engines to assembly lines. Our research has highlighted hundreds of such business cases, which together have the potential to create between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in value per year.

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