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If data is the new oil, is AI the new electricity?  

AI is defined as technology that allows computers and machines to simulate human intelligence and problem solving capabilities. It is weaving its way into the fabric of our daily lives in many ways, such as virtual assistants like Siri, content creation, and performing daily tasks. The use of AI is increasing at a substantial rate, transforming industries and lifestyles. However, does the overuse of AI pose a threat to society that outweighs its benefits, and should its growth be limited?

I am a student on a week-long work experience placement with my mum at her company eXate. On this placement, I conducted a survey at the Fintech Fringe event to find out about 1) what excites people about AI, 2) what concerns them, and 3) how it should be controlled. 

The number one interest was AI augmentation and how we can use AI to solve complex problems that humans can’t solve.

For example, Dave Wallace from Dave and Dharm Demystify believes that AI may even be able to come up with a solution to climate change as it gets smarter. Dharmesh gave me the title by talking about “AI being the new electricity”. 

Other running themes were around making people's life easier, gaining efficiencies, and how it will transform industries. 

Monica Sasso from Red Hat highlighted her excitement around AI’s potential to simplify life and enhance inclusion, believing “The power of AI and humans will be transformative.”
Sumant Kumar from NTT Data interestingly said what excites him the most is also the thing that concerns him the most, and that is the unknown. 

People may picture an AI takeover as thousands of evil robots running around, destroying humans like The Terminator. However, technology is sneaky! AI is already taking over the world in less obvious ways - namely, in the fact that the market for this tech is huge. PWC predicts that by 2030, AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion into the economy which, to put into perspective, is approximately 5 times the UK’s GDP. Shocking! (electricity pun intended).

Although the spark of excitement around AI is far from fizzling out, as the demand for it grows, so do people’s concerns. My results found that people were more vocal about their concerns than their interests. As we know, AI is powered by data, and when we do simple things like click accept cookies (not the snack!) on a website, we are essentially giving permission for our data to be used by AI.  A significant concern was what happens to our data once it has been stored. Will it be used against people in the future? In the wrong hands, will it be used to fuel social engineering attacks?

Tom Winstanley from NTT Data very thoughtfully said, “are humans ready for AI?”  

As a counter, AI was described to me as a smart graduate - not harmful alone but extremely capable when being instructed. If large corporations owning AI tools are already worth more than entire countries, continued growth without being properly regulated may even lead to a potential technology dictatorship. 

AI’s ability to simplify our lives is extraordinary. I would struggle to think of life without ChatGPT now. The fear is that people are beginning to become overly reliant on AI. As brought up by Monica, we may lose our curiosity and our ability to innovate. By doing ‘boring’, ‘mundane’ tasks, we learn how to problem solve and if we no longer learn from those tasks, “we will not give ourselves or the next generation a fair shake at learning.”

My final question was how should AI be controlled? People found this to be a more challenging question to answer, but the conclusion most people came to was principle-based regulation. It should focus on the reasons for data use rather than imposing blanket restrictions so that AI can be used safely without being limited. It was also agreed that these rules would have to be globally implemented. 

An alternate view was that the public should control AI and not a single entity.  I struggled to comprehend what AI could potentially do, you would hope the people controlling it have a better understanding of it than most. 

The consensus was that as long as AI is used ethically and does no harm, AI is a powerful tool which will ignite new business growth. 

So why are we asking these questions? Why do we care? Well, here at eXate, we know that protecting data is important, but also recognise the way we need to protect data in the very near future will need to change to meet the new demands on data. To supercharge your AI Strategy please come and speak to my mum or the rest of the eXate team. Once the lights are out, you rest knowing your data is secure as eXate protects your data at rest, in motion and in use. 

I’m pulling the plug on the puns. Power out!

*No data was harmed in the creation of this blog*


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Alice Wild, Partnerships and Marketing,



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