Artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform life and work for people and businesses in the post-Covid world. Here’s an explainer, mapping 13 crucial disruptions
Covid-19 has upturned businesses in general and workspaces in particular. From offices to educational institutions to manufacturing plants, most organisations will be forced to reset their schedules in a post-Covid world. According to the McKinsey report released before the Covid-19 outbreak, 30 percent of jobs in the US will be automated by 2030. This will be augmented by almost 10-15 percent in the post-Covid world.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) stated that the emerging professions resulting from automation could account for 6.1 million jobs globally between 2020 to 2022. Not a magic wand, but the pandemic has acted as a big disruptive force and has accelerated digital transformation and adoption of artificial intelligence, especially automation, point out experts. In a post-Covid world, the majority of investments by companies is expected to be in automation and artificial intelligence. Number13 has found 13 areas where AI will bring interesting changes.
- Education: Tara has been teaching communicative English to the students of a few schools under Greater Chennai Corporation for the past one year. Tara is an AI bot by Bangalore based startup LearningMatters and is set to work with government schools of Karnataka and Punjab. Several startups and enterprises have come up with AI solutions that are capable of revolutionising the education sector in the post-Covid world. At a micro level, AI provides personalised education, while bringing policy changes at a macro-level in the education sector. It provides smart content, automates administrative duties, helps assessing students and increases the reach of education to rural areas.
- Telemedicine: Gurgaon based hospital chain Paras Healthcare that has hospitals in Ranchi and Patna, adopted an AI-ready telemedicine platform from Reliance backed company KareXpert in last April. In just four days the hospital witnessed about a 30 percent increase in telemedicine consultations. The healthcare sector is set for a structural shift towards digital with the pandemic overhauling the ways in which it has been functioning. Use cases of AI in the health sector vary from providing tools to help doctors to consult remotely to offering chatbots to provide mental health care for frontline health workers as well as isolated patients. AI softwares scan big data quicker than humans and identify medical issues before they become a calamity.
- Manufacturing: After the lockdown was announced, at the manufacturing plant of oil major Cairn only about 1,500 people worked in the place of the usual 7,500. But the production experienced only a marginal dip, thanks to automation. Manufacturing is another important sector where AI is going to have a larger impact post-Covid. Automation will not only prevent factory shutdowns but will also give more than 5X return on investments. AI sensors can predict breakdown in advance while automated machinery maintenance, assembling and so on will smooth down the entire manufacturing line.
- Pharma R&D: In drug discovery, identifying the right molecule is the key. But it is a time-consuming process which takes months or years. Recently researchers from The National University of Singapore selected 12 drugs for treating an infection in lung cells and used an AI platform ‘IDentif.AI’ (Identifying Infectious Disease Combination Therapy with Artificial Intelligence) to validate them. The platform took only three days to identify multiple optimal drug regimens out of billions of possible combinations. From clinical trials to marketing and sales analytics AI tools are doing a great deal of work in Pharma R&D. By filtering through thousands of these drug combinations and coming up with the most effective drugs, AI and ML can narrow down the most effective drugs amongst the lot which can be further studied by specialists of the pharmacology field.
- Tertiary healthcare: Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare initiative has tied up with Apollo Hospitals Group for a National Clinical Coordination Committee (NCCC) for the AI-powered Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score API. Cardiovascular diseases cause 25 percent of deaths among the 25-69 age group in India. The platform can predict the risk score of patients up to 7 years in advance. In an ICU or HDU, AI can help doctors to prioritise the sickest person and ensure that they receive optimal and timely treatment. Intelligent ICUs also reduce work pressure for otherwise overburdened nurses.
- Banking and finance: From helping to manage huge volumes of data and derive insights from that in very less time to digitally managing payments and streamlining customer interactions through virtual AI bots, AI helps the BFSI segment to increase their revenue, reduce costs and boost profits. Most AI stalwarts like Wipro, Oracle, Infosys, IBM and so on offer dedicated AI and ML solutions which are adopted by major public and private sector banks in India. For instance, late last year, the Federal Bank enabled AI, ML, conversational bots and RPA to automate various processes which helped them reduce costs and serve customers better.
- Retailing: According to Nasscom, in the post-Covid world, AI will become a necessity for retailers to understand dynamic demand signals, to realign supply chains, to redefine the need of essential workforces and to rejig their strategy to adapt to the new normal. From AI-powered CCTV to ensure social distancing to automated store checkouts and analytics in retail stores for supporting customers, AI is going to have a big impact in every aspect of retailing.
- Public transport: Smart mobility, safer modes of transportation and better traffic management – there’s a lot AI could offer to improve existing public transport systems. With social distancing becoming a norm, in public transport – be it road, rail or airway – AI solutions and tools will be used in a big way to ensure safety. AI could bring in multimodal integration, optimise routes and increase the profitability by streamlining operations.
- Local governance: In November last year Telangana had declared 2020 as the year of AI to use the technology for local governance. Reskilling the workforce was a major programme under this. Uttar Pradesh is using AI to manage not just its public examinations, but even its state prisons. Many other states, as part of their digital push, are trying and testing AI tools for improving and streamlining their various projects.
- Tourism: From virtual travel assistants to managing in-trip and post-trip needs, AI can help in providing super personalised services by analysing big data. Predictive analytics, improving user experience, optimising costs and so on can be achieved through AI.
- Fraud detection: Artificial intelligence tools that use natural language processing, machine vision, and machine learning can analyze extensive data sets and several data sources in real-time. Based on the data, the AI system can identify abnormal behaviours and create risk scores to build a complete understanding of each payment transaction.
- Sales: From forecasting sales to training sales managers AI and ML software models can help increase the sale of products or services in the post-Covid world. Many companies have various AI tools to boost volume, augment the process and increase the overall sales performance. AI-powered chatbots will engage customers and identify the trends and help in reducing manpower.
- Restaurants: Indian restaurants will never be the same post-Covid. Maintaining social distancing to being hygienic, challenges are aplenty. However, AI can help solve some of these problems and it has already found takers. For instance, the online table reservation platform Dineout has partnered with video AI implementation company, Staqu to assist partner restaurants in maintaining social distancing norms as India’s food services industry reopens its doors to the customers. Customers can even view a live streaming of the kitchen proceedings to be assured of hygiene and sanitization measures which would help the restaurants in reinforcing consumer confidence.