Future of AI

By Mahnoor Imran Sayyed | 04 July 2022

In November 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, an AI powered interactive chatbot that can be used to generate entirely original text based on a prompt inputted by the user. This new technology took the internet by storm and its various use cases for individuals as well as organizations are already being outlined by commentators. ChatGPT is just the latest in a flurry of innovative and powerful new technologies that are harnessing AI to create content. Earlier, users circulated pictures created through Lensa, an image generator AI on their social media channels in droves.


It is becoming increasingly clear that AI is no longer some vague and unknown technicality of the future but a very real and pressing reality of the modern world. Technological innovations across the globe are being powered through the basic principles of AI and data science and this trend is only bound to become stronger overtime.


A quick history lesson


Artificial Intelligence has long been a topic under study for professionals and academics in computer science. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, progress was slow but steady with the introduction of the first robotic vacuum cleaner. The 2010s saw a dramatic rise in the adoption of AI through predictive and classification models that were used by corporations such as Google, Meta and Spotify to better tailor their offerings to users. Virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa could recognize speech, respond to commands and even transcribe and translate exactly what was being inputted. But this upcoming decade seems to promise an even greater evolution: generative AI, ie: artificial intelligence that can be used to create completely original content. Toda, artificial intelligence can be used not only to predict trends or classify objects but also to generate entirely new content to suit the needs of a user. AI-like electricity before it-now stands poised to become a General Purpose Technology (GPT), a kind of technology that can be employed in a variety of uses and has far reaching impact on economies and communities.



Some disruptions to name


Already AI is at the forefront of changes across many industries and sectors in all geographies. In city planning and urban management, artificial intelligence is being used to model cities, answer citizen queries through a chatbot and improve security. In health, machine learning and AI technologies are being used for more accurate medical imaging, better and fast diagnostics and better hospital management. In agriculture, AI promises to boost productivity by helping farmers identify areas which need more fertilizers or pesticides and by automating various time consuming and costly manual processes. In transport and industry, AI can boost productivity by predicting and accounting for issues in the supply chain, by automating routine tasks such as driving or scheduling and by using data to provide insights into consumer trends. And AI technology is not just convenient for businesses to adopt, Stanford’s AI Index Report indicates the cost to produce such technologies is getting lower and lower while their efficiency is improving. For example, since 2018, the cost to train an image classification system has decreased by 64%, while training times have improved by 94%. The adoption of AI is also a concern that is at the forefront of many business leaders across the globe. McKinsey & Company’s report on AI found that nearly 52% of companies reported that at least 5% of their budgets went into AI solutions compared to 40% of companies in 2018. As such, it appears inevitable that AI is the technology of the future-for organizations and individuals across the world.



What does this mean for Pakistan?


How does AI and the disruption it promises to bring impact Pakistan? As a developing country with raw materials as a majority of our exports, Pakistan may stand to lose out as AI boosts productivity in agriculture and manufacturing across the globe. With artificial intelligence enhancing their productive capacity, developed countries may not necessarily need the same volume or type of raw inputs Pakistan provides in the international trade market and there will be a transition to more service based trade. While the future looks bleak for Pakistani exports, there is some hope. Pakistan currently houses one of the world’s largest and youngest populations. And the IT exports of Pakistan are thriving-growing faster than ever before-as internet penetration increases across the country. Currently, Pakistan houses more than 19000 ICT companies, 6000 of which are exporting their products to over 120 countries across the globe. Despite its economic and political challenges, Pakistan is increasingly being viewed as a hub for global entities to access technical skills at a relatively lower cost. Some of the biggest organizations in AI such as Addo AI, Affiniti and Motive have already established their offices in the country. This means that while with the onslaught of AI, raw, agriculture based Pakistani exports are bound to lose their value, the technical services provided by Pakistani professionals could be the key to maintaining a healthy trade balance. 


It is critical therefore that we are able to capitalize on this trend. Professionals entering the workforce must cultivate skills in data analytics, machine learning and AI to ensure that they are able to survive in the economy of the future. For young Pakistanis, this means that they need to leverage the resources at their disposal including formal institutions such as universities and schools as well as open source learning such as online courses and databases to best improve upon their technical skills. Moreover, they also need to consistently stay up to date with developments in AI and machine learning technologies to ensure that they remain competitive. Organizations also need to start incorporating AI in both their operations as well as their products to ensure that they are able to reap the maximum benefit of the upcoming changes. Meanwhile the government needs to ensure that proper structures are in place such as a secure payments gateway, proper internet infrastructure and comprehensive policy framework to bolster the growth of the AI sector of Pakistan’s economy.


Artificial intelligence and its related technologies are bound to bring many changes to both the global and local economy-and these changes are coming sooner than we think. It is critical that we are able to plan and account for the disruption that is to come-both at an individual and organizational scale and that we adjust both our skills and our mindset accordingly.