Founder @ Hala.ai
The propagation of artificial intelligence (AI) is making a significant impact on society, changing the way how we work, live, and communicate. AI today is allowing the world to diagnose diseases and develop clinical pathways. It is also being used to match individuals’ skill sets with job openings and create smart traffic that leads to the reduction of pollution. There are many examples of applying AI technologies in the sustainable growth of the planet and organisations.
It is time to solve some of the world’s biggest problems with emerging technologies such as AI.
AI should work for the planet and not against it.
According to the United Nations there are 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:
Many of the 17 goals apply directly to the environment and humans’ influence over it.
Are we a part of the people or organisations that influences sustainable growth? The short answer is yes.
I firmly believe that exist several types of influence on sustainable growth: direct impact and indirect impact. The types of impact can be applied to one organisation and its product/solution or can be applied to a chain of organisations.
Millions and millions of people using Waze to find the best route. Maybe you did not even think about this, but while you are using Waze, you are becoming a part of the sustainable growth. Waze is not just about increasing safety, decreasing the congestion, and optimizing the traffic flow, but it also about pollution reduction. When I started thinking about the Waze and their impact, I come to the thought, that ok, if I am driving the diesel car, then Waze is navigating me to the fewer congestions roads. As a result, I will not produce much pollution, because I will avoid the traffic jam.
But what if I am driving an electric car? Am I not part of sustainable growth? The answer - no, I am part of it! Again if Waze can help me avoid the traffic jam, I will drive on roads with fewer cars, so my vehicle will not be a cause of the more significant traffic jam. And this is my indirect impact on sustainable growth. I can make this thanks to Waze and AI technologies.
With the IoT sensors attached to solar plants, companies are getting the opportunity to collect the data for machine learning monitoring and prediction. Some of the benefits of applying AI technologies are remote inspection of sites, predictive maintenance, and energy resource forecasting. So the Company XYZ that is developing the machine learning models for the companies that using solar panels is making a direct impact on sustainable growth.
If we will take a look deeper, we can assume that Company XYZ is using enterprise software, e.g. SAP. So SAP by providing their ERP solution to the Company XYZ is making indirect impact on overall sustainable growth, because its allowing Company XYZ to handle all the business process, e.g. accounting, sales, hr, projects and so one.
Even if you are an accountant or head of human resources in the organisations that produce semi-finished products for other organisations that building the electric cars, you are also making an indirect impact on sustainable growth.
Based on the examples above, we can split AI solutions into two categories - those who are making a direct impact and those who are making an indirect impact.
Good examples of the direct impact of the AI companies in climate change could be Microsoft, Agder Energi, and Powel AS. They create a more effective, flexible, and autonomous grid, which will enable energy-saving and more comfortable integration of renewable energy to the grid mix.
AI companies with indirect impact. It is hard to measure the impact of AI companies with an indirect impact on sustainable growth. But we can defiantly say that for example, RPA solutions are making automation of the processes in any industry. By this technology allowing organizations to reduce operational costs and increase efficiency, which, of course, influences a sustainable growth chain.
Also, there are a lot of companies in the AI area, using natural language processing and machine learning models to build Virtual Employees Assistants. By 2021, Gartner, Inc. predicts that 25 percent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) daily. It means that AI technologies and their indirect impact will play a massive role in making people more productive & efficient. As a result, people will have more time for innovations and sustainable growth.
If we understand our impact on sustainable growth and capabilities of AI technologies, we can focus on things that matter and achieve better results.
Organisations, while defining their technology strategies, should take into consideration the effect that AI will have on sustainability outcomes and growth. Both types of AI solutions can have a significant impact on an organisation's efficiency. AI solutions with direct impact can provide short-term benefits, while the AI solutions with indirect impact will provide long-term benefits.
For technology companies
The technology companies realised their role in sustainable growth, and in parallel with creating the core products and services, they are also trying to accelerate sustainable growth. For example, AWS launched the program “Hour of Code,” and millions of students can get the first steps in coding, create new solutions, get a better job.
Another example is Microsoft that started the program “AI for Earth.” This program is part of Microsoft's vision in accelerating the sustainable growth, with the program you can first of all knowledge, grants, access to cloud computing, AI services, and many more.
It is the responsibility of each big corporate to start doing something in terms of sustainable growth.
All types of investors should extend their portfolio with the companies that address sustainability challenges, both with direct impact and indirect impact. Such investments could speed up the transformational implications – and the commercial opportunity – of investments in technologies of sustainable growth.