Industry insights

Navigating the impact of artificial intelligence: Hindrance or enabler?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of our rapidly evolving technological landscape, prompting a critical examination of its role as either a hindrance or an enabler. Just looking at the incredible rate of change that 2023 brought us, from Microsoft’s $10 billion investment in OpenAI to ending the same year with lawsuits against Microsoft for OpenAI copyright infringement. Businesses worldwide are embracing AI to enhance efficiency, decision-making, and innovation. However, the impact of AI is nuanced, with both positive and negative implications that shape its overall contribution to various industries. And this very balance is what has become a critical conversation amongst leaders in my own company. 

Therefore, when things are complex we start with neutral understanding.

Roles of AI

AI can wear many hats, serving as a catalyst for transformative change. The two primary roles of AI can be broadly categorized as augmentative and autonomous.

  • Augmentative AI refers to systems designed to enhance human capabilities, enabling individuals to perform tasks more efficiently. Examples include machine learning (ML) algorithms that analyze vast datasets to provide valuable insights, automation tools that streamline routine tasks, and virtual assistants that facilitate communication. In the business context, augmentative AI empowers employees to focus on complex problem-solving and creative endeavors, thereby driving productivity and innovation. However, concerns arise about potential job displacement and the need for upskilling to adapt to the evolving work landscape.
  • Autonomous AI, on the other hand, refers to systems capable of independent decision-making and action. This includes self-driving cars, drones, and advanced robotics. While autonomous AI holds the promise of revolutionizing industries such as transportation and manufacturing, ethical considerations regarding accountability, transparency, and safety remain.

It’s important to note that AI as it relates to being a tech advancement started years back. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined and came into popular use back in the 1950s when Alan Turing published “Computer Machinery and Intelligence” which proposed a test of machine intelligence called The Imitation Game. But this feeling of newness and the mass appeal that was much of 2023 was brought about when AI began to interface with us by way of back-and-forth communication. So now that we know the two roles of AI, let’s review the two main types.

Types of AI

Understanding the impact of AI requires an examination of its different types:

  • Narrow AI: Narrow AI, or weak AI, is designed for specific tasks and operates within a limited scope. Businesses commonly use narrow AI for applications like virtual personal assistants, recommendation systems, and image recognition. While effective in narrow domains, the limited versatility raises concerns about over-reliance and potential misuse.
  • General AI: General AI, or strong AI, represents a theoretical future state where machines possess the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across diverse domains, akin to human intelligence. The realization of general AI remains speculative, with ongoing debates about ethical considerations and the potential impact on society.

Leveraging AI in Business

Microsoft is not alone in the investment they made. According to a study by Juliety, “91% of leading global companies are continuously investing in the AI industry.” Many companies are doing this to gain a competitive edge, enhance customer experiences, and streamline operations. Positive applications include predictive analytics for demand forecasting, chatbots for customer support, and AI-driven cybersecurity to detect and prevent threats. However, challenges such as data privacy, bias in algorithms, and the ethical use of AI demand careful consideration.

The pace in which businesses are tapping into AI tools is not slowing down. According to a study by Xometry, “70% of the CEOs who have deployed AI have seen an immediate ROI.” Statistics like this one will only grow the demand, therefore it’s important to understand when AI is helping you or simply, adding to your workload.

The Good and the Bad

Every day, new AI startups and tools are emerging at a rapid pace. As of the summer of 2023, there were over 3,000 options available in the market, showcasing the continuous growth and development of AI technology (source). Sifting through tools, updates, solutions, etc. is not only time consuming but exhausting when you are not sure where to begin.

The impact of AI on businesses is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, AI enhances efficiency, fosters innovation, and contributes to economic growth. However, concerns about job displacement, ethical implications, and the potential for misuse necessitate a balanced approach. 

As a leader of a proptech company, I take this second half seriously. Good AI, and good tech in general, should enable your business practices, not require a heavy lift for the work you are performing. And equally as frustrating, is the amount of smoke and mirrors we need to look through to get to viable solutions.


It's important in 2024,  to be cautious of companies that simply use the buzzword "AI" without providing further details or explanations. With plenty of investments and startups, there will be noise. AI can often create a fog of ambiguity and hype. Looking ahead to this year, we hope that companies will take on the responsibility of educating their users about the distinctions between AI and generative AI, as well as the real impact of machine learning (ML) versus mere glitz. 

Also, as we navigate the intricate landscape of AI, it is crucial to recognize its dual nature – a force that can either delay or enable, depending on how it is harnessed. Businesses must adopt a responsible and ethical approach, incorporating AI as a tool for progress while addressing the challenges it may present. Striking this delicate balance will determine whether AI becomes a hindrance or an enabler in shaping our future.

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