The biggest impact of artificial intelligence will be to help humans make discoveries we couldn’t make on our own.
In a recent paper, economists at MIT, Harvard, and Boston University argued that AI’s greatest economic impact could come from its potential as a new “method of invention” that ultimately reshapes “the nature of the innovation process and the organization of R&D.”
Iain Cockburn, a BU economist and coauthor of the paper, says: “New methods of invention with wide applications don’t come by very often, and if our guess is right, artificial intelligence could dramatically change the cost of doing R&D in many different fields.” Much of innovation involves making predictions based on data. In such tasks, Cockburn adds, “machine learning could be much faster and cheaper by orders of magnitude.”
In other words, AI’s chief legacy might not be driverless cars or image search or even Alexa’s ability to take orders, but its ability to come up with new ideas to fuel innovation itself. [read more]