AI will not take all jobs nor end civilization. But it will help businesses make better decisions.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. And stories are rampant about its promise and its threat. Will AI’s potential be realised in the year ahead? SAS, the leader in AI and analytics, asked executives and experts across the company to predict trends and key business and technology developments in AI for 2024. Below are some of the predictions they shared.
Generative AI will augment (not replace) a comprehensive AI strategy
“Generative AI technology does a lot of things, but it can’t do everything. In 2024, organisations will pivot from viewing generative AI as a stand-alone technology to integrating it as a complement to industry-specific AI strategies. In banking, simulated data for stress testing and scenario analysis will help predict risks and prevent losses. In healthcare, that means the generation of individualised treatment plans. In manufacturing, generative AI can simulate production to identify improvements in quality, reliability, maintenance, energy efficiency and yield,” says Bryan Harris, Chief Technology Officer, SAS.
AI will create jobs
“In 2023, there was a lot of worry about the jobs that AI might eliminate. The conversation in 2024 will focus instead on the jobs AI will create. An obvious example is prompt engineering, which links a model’s potential with its real-world application. AI helps workers at all skill levels and roles to be more effective and efficient. And while new AI technologies in 2024 and beyond may cause some short-term disruptions in the job market, they will spark many new jobs and new roles that will help drive economic growth,” says Udo Sglavo, Vice President of Advanced Analytics, SAS.
AI will enhance responsible marketing
“As marketers, we must consciously practice responsible marketing. Facets of this are awareness of the fallibility of AI and alertness to possible bias creeping in. While AI offers the promise of enhanced marketing and advertising programs, we know that biased data and models beget biased results. In SAS Marketing, we are implementing model cards that are like an ingredient list, but for AI. Whether you create or apply AI, you are responsible for its impact. That’s why all marketers, regardless of technical know-how, can review the model cards, validate that their algorithms are effective and fair, and adjust as needed,” says Jennifer Chase, Chief Marketing Officer, SAS.
Financial firms will embrace AI amid a Dark Age of Fraud
“Even as consumers signal increased fraud vigilance, generative AI and deepfake technology are helping fraudsters hone their multitrillion-dollar craft. Phishing messages are more polished. Imitation websites look stunningly legitimate. A crook can clone a voice with a few seconds of audio using simple online tools. We are entering the Dark Age of Fraud, where banks and credit unions will scramble to make up for lost time in AI adoption – incentivised, no doubt, by regulatory shifts forcing financial firms to assume greater liability for soaring APP [authorised push payment] scams and other frauds,” says Stu Bradley, Senior Vice President of Risk, Fraud and Compliance Solutions, SAS.
Shadow AI will challenge CIOs
“CIOs have struggled with ‘shadow IT’ in the past and will now confront ‘shadow AI’ – solutions used by or developed within an organisation without official sanction or monitoring by IT. Well-intentioned employees will continue to use generative AI tools to increase productivity. And CIOs will wrestle daily with how much to embrace these generative AI tools and what guardrails should be put in place to safeguard their organisations from associated risks,” says Jay Upchurch, Chief Information Officer, SAS.
Multimodal AI and AI simulation will reach new frontiers
“The integration of text, images and audio into a single model is the next frontier of generative AI. Known as multimodal AI, it can process a diverse range of inputs simultaneously, enabling more context-aware applications for effective decision-making. An example of this will be the generation of 3D objects, environments and spatial data. This will have applications in augmented reality [AR], virtual reality [VR], and the simulation of complex physical systems such as digital twins,” says Marinela Profi, AI/Generative AI Strategy Advisor, SAS.
Digital-twin adoption will accelerate
“Technologies like AI and IoT [Internet of Things] analytics drive important sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, energy and government. Workers on the factory floor and in the executive suite use these technologies to transform huge volumes of data into better, faster decisions. In 2024, the adoption of AI and IoT analytics will accelerate through the broader use of digital-twin technologies, which analyse real-time sensor and operational data and create duplicates of complex systems like factories, smart cities and energy grids. With digital twins, organisations can optimise operations, improve product quality, enhance safety, increase reliability and reduce emissions,” says Jason Mann, Vice President of IoT, SAS.
Insurers will confront climate risk, aided by AI
“After decades of anticipation, climate change has transformed from speculative menace to genuine threat. Global insured losses from natural disasters surpassed $130 billion in 2022, and insurers worldwide are feeling the squeeze. US insurers, for example, are under scrutiny for raising premiums and withdrawing from hard-hit states like California and Florida, leaving tens of millions of consumers in the lurch. To survive this crisis, insurers will increasingly adopt AI to tap the potential of their immense data stores to shore up liquidity and be competitive. Beyond the gains they realise in dynamic premium pricing and risk assessment, AI will help them automate and enhance claims processing, fraud detection, customer service and more,” says Troy Haines, Senior Vice President of Risk Research and Quantitative Solutions, SAS.
AI importance will grow in government
“The workforce implications of AI will start being felt in government. Governments have a hard time attracting and retaining AI talent since experts command such high salaries, however, they will aggressively recruit for expertise to support regulatory actions. And like enterprises, governments will also increasingly turn to AI and analytics to boost productivity, automate menial tasks and mitigate that talent shortage,” says Reggie Townsend, Vice President of the SAS Data Ethics Practice.
Generative AI will bolster patient care
“To advance health and improve patient and member experiences, organisations will further develop generative AI-powered tools in 2024 for personalised medicine, such as the creation of patient-specific avatars for use in clinical trials and the generation of individualised treatment plans. Additionally, we will see the emergence of generative AI-based systems for clinical decision support, delivering real-time guidance to payers, providers and pharmaceutical organisations,” says Steve Kearney, Global Medical Director, SAS.
Deliberate AI deployment will make or break insurers
“In 2024, one of the top 100 global insurers will go out of business as a consequence of deploying generative AI too quickly. Right now, insurers are rolling out autonomous systems at breakneck speed with no tailoring to their business models. They’re hoping that using AI to crunch through claims quickly will offset the last few years of poor business results. But after 2023’s layoffs, the remaining staff will be spread too thin to enact the necessary oversight to deploy AI ethically and at scale. The myth of AI as a cure-all will trigger tens of thousands of faulty business decisions that will lead to a corporate collapse, which may irreparably damage consumer and regulator trust,” says Franklin Manchester, Global Insurance Strategic Advisor, SAS.
Public health will get an AI boost from academia
“Public health is achieving technological modernisation at an unprecedented rate. Whether overdoses or flu surveillance, using data to anticipate public health interventions is essential. Forecasting and modeling are rapidly becoming the cornerstone of public health work, but government needs help. Enter academia. We will see an increase in academic researchers carrying out AI-driven modeling and forecasting on behalf of the government. It is clear after COVID-19 that the protection of our population will require exceptional technology and collaboration,” says Dr. Meghan Schaeffer, National Public Health Advisor and Epidemiologist, SAS.
Harnessing AI power responsibly
“There is tremendous market excitement around the potential business case applications for AI and generative AI, and as this potential becomes more vast and powerful as demonstrated by the forthcoming predicted trends. Yet, the rise of this technology is still not without its concerns. Data privacy, potential bias, ethics, and accuracy stand out as crucial areas requiring attention. While many companies developing and deploying AI and generative AI based solutions are simultaneously also developing guidelines for the responsible use of these technologies, establishing formal sets of standards by industry and even country or region have yet to catch up with the development, deployment and adoption – and I believe more governments will (and should) be spotlighting this more in 2024. At the heart of SAS’s approach to responsible AI innovation is the question not just of ‘could we’ but more importantly, ‘should we?’ There remains the need for human oversight in the use of generative AI, advocating for accuracy checks and the elimination of unintentional bias. And as the digital revolution beckons, we need to learn how best to co-exist with AI and leverage its benefits responsibly, ensuring the technology remains both trusted and secure,” says Itumeleng Nomlomo, Senior Business Solutions Manager at SAS in South Africa.