With AI trends moving as quickly as they are, it’s difficult to predict how the technology will change over the next 10 to 20 years. By 2018, some 3 million people will be supervised by a robot; by 2020 smart machines will be a top priority for CFOs.  Every industry from journalism to marketing and politics to customer service is being disrupted by AI that’s increasingly able to replicate human behavior. The future that everyone’s been talking about is already here. The only question left to answer is how it’ll continue to change our lives.

Related: How AI will disrupt the customer service industry

The infrastructure is already there

The proliferation of smartphones and the internet means that the world is moving online. With everyone permanently attached to their phones, surfing the web, posting to social media and texting, data is being created constantly. It’s data that details our behavior, interests, knowledge, and connections. And it’s all there, available as the raw material for AI.

The costs of computing and storage are plummeting as processors are getting faster and more efficient, making increasingly complex AI processes more feasible than ever. There have also been significant improvements in the design and roll out of AI software which promises to accelerate the advancement of AI even further. And AI-driven products have already filtered through to every part of our lives, from the search engines we use to the messenger apps we talk over. These technologies aren’t going away anytime soon.

Risk vs reward

While some might say that it’s impossible to predict whether the risks of AI applications to business outweigh the rewards, analysts are having none of it. Research suggests that by 2020, 5 percent of all economic transactions will be handled by autonomous software agents – that is AI.

The real question is whether companies are willing to take the plunge and invest in the research of the technology and fund its continued development. Some have done it by accident, like the company in America that paid a programmer more than half a million dollars over six years, only to learn that he had automated his own job and had been playing games and gymming on company time.

Who’s running with AI trends already?

Not surprisingly, many advancements in AI trends have been funded by the military. In 2018, the US government will spend $4.6 billion on drones and drone research as automated drones set to replace manned drones in the field. AI drones simply need to be given the destination of a target. They can dodge air defenses and reach the target on their own. Lethal decisions will still be made by human minds.

But academic breakthroughs in the applications of AI are being made. Institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford are trying to map out the human brain in an attempt to emulate it. This has the potential to lead down two paths – creating an AI that replicates the complexities of the human brain and actually emulating the brain function. The latter comes with a slew of ethical questions around the god complex.

So, advancements are happening, with or without your investment. Prevailing wisdom says the risk of being left behind is far greater than the benefits of playing it safe. If you’d like to learn more about how AI trends are disrupting other industries, read our latest article. It outlines what strides AI is making in the business and marketing sectors.

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