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The fourth industrial revolution and AI opportunities

The economic outlook is as uncertain as it has been for a decade. On top of short-term risks, businesses must navigate more fundamental challenges to the commercial environment, as digital innovations move from proofs-of-concept to broad application, disrupting a range of businesses.

It’s not just ecommerce and fintech: the impact of digital innovation is being felt across all sectors, as technology like ecosystem platforms, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain become more widely deployed, upending business models but also presenting opportunities for early adopters.

Co-founder and CEO of AI advisory firm and incubator ADDO AI, Dr Ayesha Khanna is a world leader in thinking about how the fourth industrial revolution will impact businesses globally.

Ahead of her appearance at the Horizons, ANZ Economic Outlook Series & Lunar New Year Celebration hosted in Singapore, Dr Khanna shares her thoughts on disruption, the future and the fear of the unknown.

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Opportunity equality

The digitisation of work will bring competition from the developing world

"It’s all about staying relevant as disruption and automation happens.”

Students from countries like Brazil, India, China and Bangladesh now have unprecedented access to high-quality education through free online platforms like EdX, which offers free courses by Ivy League universities like Harvard. The democratisation of education means the 'elite advantage' of students from countries like Singapore and England is forever gone.

With STEM you could start off as someone who studied philosophy, but then you might become a game designer. After that, you might start building robotics for the elderly.

It’s all about staying relevant as disruption and automation happens. You can’t save yourself from automation unless you know what’s being automated and create something on top of it.

You need to teach the humanities, project management skills, strategies of computational thinking. Changing the ways things are taught is also crucial.

Fear and disruption

When we look at a piece of paper and some coloured pencils, we do not expect the pencil to get up and start dancing or doing something on the paper by itself. Yet somehow, when we look at technology tools, we tend to be very passive and accept the answers that are given to us.

We should actually be open to the new insights AI is giving us - not treat it as a black box, but experiment with it, try to learn what's inside, and be critical of the biases inside it.

AI is so critical to the Hybrid Age that it is becoming a strategy at the national level for many countries. Technology is becoming cheaper and can be owned by the majority; therefore, many businesses are now employing it.

According to some statistics, 47 per cent of jobs will be replaced by robots, so people should be more aware today of the specialisations and future careers they choose.

Fourth revolution

The hot industries of the future will be infrastructure for smart cities, advanced manufacturing or 3D printing, robotics and machine intelligence, the sharing economy and marketplaces, logistics (aviation, rail, transportation), bioengineering, nanotechnology and materials science.

The reason for the low engagement for government services in cities so far is because citizens are being treated as uniform grey blocks. If we personalise the smart city experience for residents, by giving people the right information at the right time – it will lead to higher engagement and feedback.

Dr Ayesha Khanna is co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI.

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The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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