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The Rise of AI: Benefits and Challenges

By Josué Ramírez Rodríguez - International Data Center Authority (IDCA)
Regional Director Latam


By Josue Ramirez | Regional Director LATAM - Tue, 05/02/2023 - 13:00

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Maybe some of us heard about artificial intelligence (AI) in the past but we thought that it could take decades or was something only found in science fiction movies. But recently, since the beginning of 2023 with the public release of Chat GPT, we have seen a wave of many AI programs and the beginning of the “AI race.” We have seen the giants of the technology world like Microsoft and Google using AI in their platforms and then a cascade of new companies emerging, offering AI programs that we can use for design, marketing, or Chat GPT that we can use for almost all areas that we want to explore.

AI is a rapidly growing technology that has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives. While AI has the potential to bring many benefits to society, it also has the potential to bring some negative impacts. 

Positive Impacts of AI on Society:

  1. Automation: One of the most significant benefits of AI is automation. AI has the potential to automate many tasks that are repetitive, freeing up people's time to focus on more complex and creative tasks. 

  2. Healthcare: AI has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by improving diagnostic accuracy, developing personalized treatments, and providing remote healthcare services.

  3. Education: AI can improve the education system by providing personalized learning experiences, automating grading, and tracking student progress.

  4. Safety: AI can improve safety by analyzing data to predict and prevent accidents, monitor for security threats, and provide real-time information to first responders.

  5. Environment: AI can help address environmental challenges by monitoring air and water quality, predicting natural disasters, and developing sustainable solutions.

  6. Virtual Assistants: Virtual assistants, such as Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant, use AI to understand and respond to users' requests. These assistants can perform tasks such as making calls, sending messages, making reservations, and searching for information online.

  7. Online shopping: Online stores and e-commerce sites use AI to recommend products based on users’ purchase history and preferences. 

  8. Home and industry automation: AI can be used to control devices, such as thermostats, security systems, and appliances. These devices can be programmed to automatically adjust to users' preferences.

  9. Entertainment: AI can be used in entertainment, such as video streaming services. AI can be used to analyze users’ viewing history and recommend relevant TV shows and movies.

  10. Transportation: AI can be used in transportation to optimize transportation routes and reduce traffic. It can also be used to develop autonomous vehicles and improve safety on roads.

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that new uses for AI will be discovered in a variety of fields.

We can see that AI can help us in many ways in our lives, but not everything is a bed of roses. There are many negative impacts of AI, including: 

  1. Job displacement: The automation of tasks through AI could lead to job displacement, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing, customer service, and transportation.

  2. Bias and discrimination: AI algorithms can perpetuate biases and discrimination, as they are based on historical data and societal prejudices. This could lead to discrimination in areas such as hiring, lending, and law enforcement.

  3. Dependence on technology: The growing dependence on AI and technology could lead to negative impacts on social and emotional well-being, particularly in areas such as addiction and social isolation. 

  4. Cybersecurity concerns: The increasing use of AI raises cybersecurity concerns, particularly in the protection of sensitive information and critical infrastructure.

To address the potential negative impacts of AI on society, regulations need to be implemented as soon as possible to ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner. These regulations should address privacy and security, transparency, accountability, supervision and control. 

Every time we use AI, a lot of personal data is shared with all platforms, apps, and web browsers. As Web 3.0 is expected to be more intelligent, connected, and interoperable, it means that all our personal information will be easily available on the web. There is some intention to control that with tools like blockchain, but governments and society need to focus on the regulations for this new era. 

We have talked about the benefits and negative impacts on society but there is more that should concern us regarding AI, including the evaluation of economic, environmental, social, and governance (EESG) factors. 

AI requires large amounts of energy to function, especially during model training and data processing. This can lead to increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, which can negatively impact the environmental footprint of companies and countries.

We need to focus on several aspects and one of the most important is the environmental factor. AI lives inside data centers and data centers consume a lot of energy. For example, over the next five years, new data center projects in Mexico will demand around 600MW of energy. This is in addition to existing centers. As a result, the government needs to focus on their electricity demand and energy generation. Talking about Latin America, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Chile use renewable energy for between 40% to 90% of their overall electricity needs. Mexico is in the 15-20% range, which is about the same as the US. 

Mexico has committed to 30GW of new renewable energy by the year 2030. This would increase Mexico's renewables to 40-50% of its total electricity needs, which would  be a very strong improvement.

Mexico's digital infrastructure would benefit from a much higher number of data centers, at least three to five times as many as exist now and a higher rate of mobile connections. It trails the three regional leaders, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Chile, in these areas.

Overall, it is important to strike a balance between the potential benefits and risks of AI, and to consider the impact on society and ESG evaluation when designing and implementing AI systems. By doing so, we can ensure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical manner, and that it promotes a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Photo by:   Josué Ramírez Rodríguez

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