another publication by IMAGE asia

Using Artificial Intelligence with balance and caution

  Boat Lagoon

May 2023

Before 5G was properly launched and available, certain companies and service providers were already ‘pre-selling’ 5G hardware and items to consumers.

Eventually, those items became defunct and newer items to generate consumer interest continue to be introduced in carefully controlled ‘waves’ of releases onto the market, in the same way TV and phone technology is deliberately cultivated in small increments to amortise and increase profits over continual ‘new launches’.

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is following a similar pattern with many companies already advertising AI as part of their model even if it isn’t really internally developed, properly embedded or is only superficially connected to the main functions of that business.

AI, rightly lauded as closely or much more significant than the internet, is going to be a game changer for how our world operates. It will change each and every system and process through interaction and resource management. As with every revolutionary economic and global system change, it will be abused and used to exploit by those that are able to wield its powers for their own gains at the expense of others.

This doesn’t mean that artificial intelligence should be ignored or ‘shelved’. However, as we all rush to think about how to make our firms and systems even more ‘efficient’, let us first consider what our values and principles are and how artificial intelligence could align with those prior to radical or thoughtless implementation.

Much credence is applied to the notion of ‘human capital’ and its value in modern society. Simply put, we all need other ‘people’. The pandemic proved that we need them more than we think and when we are deprived of contact with other people many of us can turn a little stranger for it. So if ‘people’ are rightly important, shouldn’t we be very careful about simply ‘replacing them’ without long-term thinking of the effects?

Convenience was one of the many reasons provided for the advent of shopping malls; retail outlets and commercial centres. In many ways, the use of these real estate innovations has improved the lives of many, driven costs down for certain goods, created jobs for those that wouldn’t be able to work in other positions and allowed those living near such malls to reduce their shopping time by shopping for a mix of items in one place.

However, small family businesses and grocery stores were decimated, working hours lengthened by round the clock or late openings and the diversity of products available was eventually reduced though controlled imports and franchising models. Consumers can guess what is in a shopping mall before visiting it and old ‘town centres’ or family owned shops are now more subsistence based than before. AI will have benefits and cons but on a far greater scale.

AI could revolutionise consumerism and eliminate the current growing tired algorithms employed by the likes of Amazon et al. We will be able to select our goods on an immediately ‘thought-of’ basis through AI glasses or AI microchips embedded in our bodies and this will ‘speed up’ our decisions. However, not all fast decisions are good. Eliminating swathes of people out of the equation in relation to interaction between airlines and consumers has left millions of customers with little or no recourse when flights are cancelled, re-arranged and airlines have leveraged consumers by promising ‘budget’ prices but charging excessive fees for items considered to be a necessary part of travel – such as weighty baggage for long haul and being able to eat on a plane or sit next to loved ones. Overall, automation might have affected prices and ability to travel but the method of delivery and service levels are far from satisfactory and governments do not generally step in to assist.

What makes anyone think AI will be a different story? The stand off between regulators and social media operators has proven that private business accelerates first, abuses rights, causes young generational suicides and depression through lack of safeguards and then the state steps in later on struggling to work out which regulations to apply and how. This lack of foresight and planning is portrayed as allowing ‘innovation to flourish’ before curtailing it. Whilst I believe law should be reflexive, I also don’t see why it can’t be planned and then be reflexive. Laws can be planned now for AI.

In our businesses, before we truly embed AI we must apply the same or greater responsibility than we current do when we think about the environment; sustainability; CSR and the greater good. We must think whether our decisions will actually harm consumers for the sake of excessive profits and whether we will change a system that will ultimately create a more difficult and unrewarding system for the majority. The ‘AI’ revolution should not be exploited to create an ‘AI’ gap between the powerful and weak.

I will be looking carefully at how much ‘AI’ I can cost effectively introduce into a legal services business. However, I won’t be replacing Thai lawyers who have a unique set of skills and mindset for dealing with the Thai legal system, with Thai AI bots anytime soon. Instead, I will invest in developing my team’s skills to harmonise with AI products to assist them with their work, eliminate mundane tasks but allow them to accelerate and develop themselves to become superhuman lawyers, not unemployed. Whether I can achieve that, remains to be seen.

I feel excited about AI and what is springing up from different parts of the globe as a ‘new way of doings things’. However, I believe we should share a healthy trepidation and caution on how quickly and for what reasons we adopt AI in various systems and organisations in which we have an input or control over. Balance is rational, but how rational will an AI bot be if it is programmed incorrectly or with gaps or by irrational humans?

By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Real Estate; Construction; Hospitality; Corporate; Commercial; Tech; Dispute Resolution; and Litigation, operating from Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia.

 Contact info:

Hughes Krupica Consulting

Hughes Krupica Consulting Co. Ltd
23/123-5 Moo 2 Kohkaew Plaza
The Phuket Boat Lagoon
T. Kohkaew Amphoe Muang
Phuket 83000 Thailand
Tel: (0) 76 608 468

Hughes Krupica Consulting (Bangkok) Co. Ltd
29/41 Soi Ladprao 22
Ladprao Road
Chankasem, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900 Thailand
Tel: (0) 20 771 518

[email protected]

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