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Artificial intelligence could boost global economy by $14 trillion – but has one vital flaw

By Charlotte Ricca

AI can interpret data but it doesn’t understand meaning or context

Artificial intelligence could boost global economy but has one vital flaw

A steady decline in business profitability could be reversed thanks to artificial intelligence. But it has one major weakness, according to Marc Carrel-Billiard, global senior managing director at Accenture Labs.

Accenture assessed the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) in 16 industries and found it could help kick-start average profitability by 38%, bringing in an additional $14 trillion to the global economy.

However, as Carrel-Billiard explained at World Summit AI in the Netherlands, the technology is still limited. Despite its name “these systems are not very intelligent,” he said. AI can interpret data but it cannot understand meaning or context.

AI has already had a positive impact on certain areas of business productivity, such as call centres. Carrel-Billiard said that five years ago AI bots could resolve just 10% of customer phone calls, but this has risen to 60% in 2019.

Accenture believes AI offers “unprecedented profitability opportunities” in the next decade. The three sectors that will benefit most, it argues, are information and communication, financial services and manufacturing. Manufacturing is forecast to see a 39 per cent share-of-profit increase thanks to the ability of AI-powered systems to learn and evolve. This would eliminate faulty machines and idle equipment.

However, if AI systems are to reach their full potential, Carrel-Billiard believes they need to be accountable, transparent and free of bias – not simply “super-fast task rabbits”.

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