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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

AI tools will manage time, boost work, but won’t take over jobs, Microsoft says

The transformative potential of AI can play a role in critical sectors such as healthcare, education, financial inclusion, and agriculture

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) advancing at rapid speed, Microsoft said that while AI tools will help manage time and boost cognitive work, it will not take over jobs.

Microsoft demonstrated the power of AI during the Microsoft Africa AI Journalist Academy on Wednesday, which was held virtually across select African countries, including South Africa.

The attendees were briefed on the transformative potential of AI in critical sectors such as healthcare, education, financial inclusion, and agriculture.

AI won’t take over jobs

Experts at the forum highlighted the rapidly evolving landscape of generative AI, noting its emergence as a crucial technology of our era, as evidenced by the $20 billion funding in Gen AI startups over the past three years.

The Director of Data and AI at Microsoft South Africa, Ayanda Ngcebetsha said AI, and more specifically, generative AI (Gen AI), is leading the technology charge.

Ngcebetsha said although 2023 was the year AI went mainstream, 2024 would be the year in which AI tools would help free up time for more creative and fulfilling cognitive work. 

She said AI would only improve productivity rather than take over jobs.

“Amid concerns of replacing jobs, data from an illustration by Manuel Bortoletti shows that business leaders are looking to empower people with AI rather than replace them. AI is around us, yet invisible and working aside from us to enhance creativity rather than working against creativity.”

ALSO READ: Google rolls out generative AI to Search in Africa

Advantages of AI

Business Program Manager, Microsoft South Africa, Trusha Vanmali underscored the advantages of AI serving as a co-pilot, particularly for journalists.

Vanmali stressed the importance of AI tools in summarising reports, carrying out accurate research, imputing language translation and coordinating several meetings in one day while making the best use of the available time.

“For journalists, AI aids in increasing productivity, fostering creativity, and streamlining workflow.”

New era

Microsoft chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella said the world has entered a new and exciting era.

“We’re about to enter this fascinating new era of AI, where it’s no longer just a novel and fascinating technology.”

If you are clueless about AI, here is a brief definition.

The term “AI” has been used in computer science since the 1950s, but most people outside the industry didn’t start talking about it until the end of 2022. That’s because recent advances in machine learning have led to big breakthroughs that are beginning to have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.

ALSO READ: WATCH #DellTechForum: ‘AI has potential to transform industries’ – Dell

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