Artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from being a term of science fiction to an exciting new business tool. The possibilities the technology has to offer appear to be limitless even as we witness it solve a myriad of problems from streamlining processes to improving customer service. But, apart from its obvious boons, there is a persistent vigilance that many industry visionaries, such as Elon Musk, have warned with AI. Of course, as it is with every other technology, even AI poses risks that every business leader should know:

Data Privacy 

Data is the gateway to improving business operations, customer experience, enabling new innovations, and generally growing as an organization. However, all this requires the collection and collation of vast quantities of data. This poses an essential risk to the data as it risks the privacy and security of thousands, if not millions, of individuals. As the power of AI increases, so does the vulnerability of data due to breaches and privacy violations.

Securing Data 

As companies keep accumulating data to fuel the AI systems it becomes a formidable task to keep this data secure. As technology gets smarter so do hackers who look for vulnerabilities to exploit and use this data for illegal uses. If security precautions are insufficient the data that can benefit AI can also similarly defraud people of their digital identities and assets.  

Social engineering

AI can be and has been used to sway public sentiments by manipulating or misusing data. This can lead to situations that may compromise national interest. It can be used to spread propaganda and false news to individuals identified by algorithms and personal data. This information can be fact or fictional in various formats over a period of time and thereby manipulate certain outcomes - like appointments or elections.  

 

Biased Outcomes 

As AI systems store data on individuals it is being used to make decisions that may or may not be always beneficial to consumers. Medical data available to insurance companies might result in rejecting insurance offers. Similarly, the concept of a social credit score is being used for employment purposes which can adversely affect employment opportunities.  

Financial Performance

As AI is increasingly used in banking, it has led to decision making solely by data analyzed by machines that lack human empathy and transparency. This leads to issues where banks have to explain regulators certain decisions that were solely based on AI decisions. Also, algorithms that are used in stock trading sometimes are unable to correctly adapt to new circumstances leading to sudden financial losses.

Hostile Intelligence

Lastly, a hypothetical future scenario where AI may reach levels of super intelligence leading it beyond humanity’s control. This could pose numerous negative consequences some of which we’ve seen in science fiction. But the core existential threat remains a theoretical reality as it has been discussed by leading innovators like Elon Musk.