Artificial Intelligence: business’ friend or foe?

By Laura Sears, Senior Consultant

The media’s portrayal of artificial intelligence over the years has predominantly been one of fear. The Matrix, Blade Runner, Ex- Machina have all shown a futuristic view of machines learning to overthrow humans, but how realistic is this really? 

Computer systems which are able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, decision-making actually date back to the 1950s (bet you didn’t know that!). Able of mimicking human behaviors, systems which are capable of learning and thinking for themselves currently aren’t as emotive as those with whom Will Smith converses in iRobot, though it’s easy to understand the trepidation when that’s all you’ve been exposed to. 

AI has some real benefits in business, especially Proptech. They can be used to create virtual reality tours of properties – a trend we’ve seen grow exponentially since the start of lockdown and social distancing measures – but also for the development of smart properties, forecasting in marketing trends, biometrics to improve security and ‘bots’ to provide round the clock customer support. Siri and Alexa are classified as machine learning, but how often do you rely on that voice for speeding up your daily tasks? 

I bet you also didn’t know that the UK is at the forefront of Europe’s artificial intelligence development, with a third of all AI companies in the continent based here: AI could add £630bn to the UK economy by 2035. 

A survey by MRI Software of 100 organisations across North America and UK found that 43% of respondents said they were looking to invest in AI to make improvements to data quality. And according to Deloitte’s 2020 Commercial Real Estate Outlook, 43% of sector executives believed AI can increase speed and accuracy of mundane tasks like administration and reporting.

A machine can’t get tired or bored, reducing the need for manual labour and freeing up hours to be used elsewhere. This is great for the audit trail and providing more extensive analysis, and it also means people power can be utilised best where it’s really needed: on the front line, talking to clients, customers, building occupiers. That can’t all be bad, can it Hollywood?