Every decade, the opportunity for technology to dramatically impact society manifests itself in a new way.

In the 1980s, the personal computer democratized access to productivity enhancing tools like WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. The 1990s saw the advent of the internet – first with AOL and Prodigy, then Netscape – and suddenly we were all connected. The turn of the century brought with it the proliferation of cellular technology, then the iPhone. Each one of these advancements represented a reconfiguration of how we live, learn and work.

As we approach the 2020s, the winds of technological change are picking up. From the promise of 5G communication to the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT), we are on the cusp of a major transformation. It is the disruptive change technology represents that drives the creative work at RH Strategic and motivates us every day.

At RH Strategic, we believe that, if done right, AI has the potential to change the world for the better. That’s why we co-sponsored The AI Agenda, a half-day summit hosted in March by The Economist Events. I had the pleasure of attending the summit and listening to leaders in AI from government and the private sector discuss the state of AI and the future of the technology. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event:

1. AI has the power to create positive social change

AI isn’t just being developed for use in business. Raheem AI, a system that aggregates people’s interactions with police officers, shares the data with police oversight boards and policy makers in hopes of limiting potentially deadly encounters.

2. High-quality AI requires high-quality data

If the data sets that power AI are too small, AI runs the risk of being limited by its programming. Without robust, diverse data sets, it’s near impossible to program unbiased AI.

3. AI will affect the future of work – but not in the way you expect

Humans have many uniquely irreplaceable skills, such as empathy and cooperation, and we need to focus on those skill sets so that when AI is incorporated into industry it is as a tool to enhance human workers rather than replace them.

4. There needs to be a thoughtful approach to regulation and oversight

AI is evolving at a rapid pace, and both lawmakers and Silicon Valley are struggling to keep up with the changes. It will take a combined effort from leaders in the public and private sectors to ensure ethical, intelligent innovation and regulation.

Everything I learned at The AI Agenda just strengthens my belief that AI is the next big game-changing technology. Like the internet and the cell phone before it, it has the power to radically alter our way of life and change things for the better. As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve as we figure out how best to implement AI ethically, without sacrificing any of its enormous potential, but the brightest minds in the field are already working on these problems. I predict that in the 2020s AI will proliferate every aspect of industry and become part of our daily lives.


RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm providing strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, public sector and healthcare markets.