Minister of Industry and Commerce, Senator Aubyn Hill, says Jamaicans should be prepared to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) as a new phenomenon, which, if properly managed, can be extremely useful.
AI is the ability of a computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly undertaken by humans.
Hill told media and business stakeholders at the two-day Outsource2Jamaica conference in St James that once policies are put in place, ensuring responsible use of the technology, then there should be very little problem in maximising its use throughout society.
“As this new technology comes it will provide challenges, but we’re smart enough to get together to find a way to manage it. We must make sure we put controls so that it doesn’t run away from us. But what we’re going to do is make sure we work with it, get smart people to identify it, and the government clearly must be there to make policies,” Hill said.
Addressing concerns that AI could put some jobs at risk, Senator Hill noted that similar arguments were also put forward with the advent of computers.
“When we got computers, people said they were going to replace people, and what computers did was make sure a lot of young people got smarter. Some older people got to use a technology they never knew and the whole economy grew. In fact, the last 30 to 40 years have been driven by the technology sector,” he pointed out.
Other participants at the outsourcing conference shared the view that AI could help Jamaicans become more productive.
For Claude Duncan, Sutherland Global outsourcing company boss, the effective use of AI could play an important role in increasing business efficiency.
“Imagine for a second that you now have AI that allows somebody without an engineering degree to do what an engineer does. So, very soon, you could have someone with a diploma doing the very same work that you needed a PhD to do before because AI makes that person able to function.
“It’s actually going to help with the more complex work in one way and the one area that will not be replaced is human interaction,” he argued.
The Outsource2Jamaica Conference and Exhibition, held from May 10 to 11 at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in the second city, brought together global experts, technocrats, government officials, multilateral agencies, industry service providers, policy experts, and aspiring creative professionals to learn and network as they prepare for the future of the outsourcing industry.