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Artificial Intelligence Expert Roundups Predictions

What Impact Will AI Have In The Next 20 Years?

There was a time when artificial intelligence seemed to belong to a world of fantasies. Movies showed us a remote future where machines and robots emulated human interactions, and the latent fear of them turning against humanity was a repeated card.

I.J. Good first referred to the concept of an “intelligence explosion” back in 1965. In the years following, the progress was still primitive and the industry was taking baby steps towards this illusion (that almost sounded as imaginative).

Over fifty years later, the conditions have changed dramatically. The idea of a common environment for human and AI coexistence is suddenly winning the race.  The industry appears to be ready to take off. Many of the leading companies are giving giant steps and conducting what we hope to be: a True Revolution.

To learn more about where AI is headed, we asked hand-picked artificial intelligence experts:

What impact will artificial intelligence have in the next 20 years?

Here’s what the best brains in the field shared with us…

Dave Ferrucci, Creator of IBM’s Watson, Founder and CEO of Elemental Cognition

“The next challenge for the AI industry is for machines to go beyond simple pattern matching and to autonomously learn to understand and reason about the world the way people do. On our current course and speed, “Deep Learning” may create many useful devices, but nonetheless result in alien intelligences that provide answers without providing understanding.

The demand for machines to explain and justify answers in terms humans can understand will grow with our desire to leverage computers in the process of human decision making, especially in areas where the reasons matter.

The tough questions are the ones that don’t have simple right or wrong answers, but rather different justifications and implications. The future of AI will need to focus on making sense of the world and being able to answer the Why?”


Dharmesh Shah, Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot and Developer of GrowthBot

“Looking at the A.I. landscape today, computers now have the ability to do what we once thought only human intelligence could handle. In the future, Artificial Intelligence is going to feel less artificial and more intelligent.

Humans learn from example and experience. So do machines. This was once something a few PhD’s wrote about, but it is now something millions of people already benefit from. Everything from Siri on your phone, to software that can detect cancer.

In the same way that the Internet transformed the world by connecting millions of devices, Artificial Intelligence will cause an even bigger transformation by making those devices much, much smarter. Technologies like natural language recognition will allow us to just ask for what we want instead of having to translate our needs into clicks and touches. Intelligent software will be able to act as agents on our behalf and help us get things done.”


Frédéric Feytons, CTO at Tapptic

“The future of AI is a multi-speed world of gadgets and life-changing solutions. Some AI interfaces will simply predict what we need and when we need it without requiring us to ask. Others, meanwhile, will take over entire tasks for us.

Think of it like the difference between auto-pilot and a self-driving car – they’re all useful inventions, but widely differ in usability. This multi-speed universe of AI will touch industries and sectors well beyond automobiles and healthcare.”

Adelyn Zhou CEO of TOPBOTS

“In 20 years, AI will no longer be an isolated industry but rather embedded in every part of business and life. Even now, companies are employing AI to shape our online and in person experiences. From Netflix recommendations to medical diagnoses and autonomous flight to international diplomacy, AI will shape how decisions are made. Rather than hail what is AI enabled, we will mark what is AI free.

Most notably, businesses, policies and lives that are unaided by AI will be at a significant competitive disadvantage, unable to survive in the more sophisticated intelligent word.”


Malcolm Frank, EVP of Strategy and Marketing at Cognizant, Co-author of “What To Do When Machines Do Everything

“Most people are focused on AI’s impact on the world that we know today and how many jobs the machine will destroy. Yet we must consider what technology can improve and how much is about to change over the next 20 years.

Even more so, the great digital build-out that is front of us is going to see us double down on work that matters. AI is going to improve and upgrade how we manage our money, our health, the physical infrastructure of our cities and towns, as well as how we equip our kids with what they need to succeed, how we conduct government and more.

Over the next 20 years, AI will help drive massive financial expansion (through solving myriad societal problems) rather than presaging the end of the middle class.”


Don Mathis, Founder of RapidRPA

“Don envisions RPA centers of excellence becoming commonplace, particularly in organizations with mature shared service capabilities. Don believes the most important breakthrough in AI technology is deep machine learning and predicts process automation leveraging deep machine learning will generate billions of dollars in cost center savings over the next couple of years, while simultaneously improving operating effectiveness.”

Stefan Edqvist, COO of Starcounter

“Over the next 20 years, AI has the potential to revolutionize forecasting. Instead of just assessing raw data, AI can take into account historical patterns on the nature of the business and the dynamics of a specific market. Add to that the enormous amount of data we can obtain today, and real-time business intelligence could be more accurate than ever before. Pattern recognition and forecasting is an important advantage to have. Not only for efficiency but for security as well. AI can tell if a network is safe or under attack, and it might even be able to predict the next move of the attackers.

With AI handling enormous amounts of data in real time, many applications can be perfected. Plane tickets could always have the exact right price to meet demand, and deliver a nice margin at the same time. Traffic, planes, cars, trains, boats, can be directed much more efficiently as power can be produced and distributed in a smarter way – all based on real-time data.”


Serguei Beloussov, CEO of Acronis

“The current AI movement is based not on new fundamental discoveries but mostly on the abundance of knowledge based in the sphere of algorithms and technologies in various areas if AI and of course increase in computer capacity contributes a lot to AI development.

The remarkable difference of AI today is its large scale implementation (mainstreaming ) into everyday life of every person. Technology of image recognition, speech recognition and synthesis, dialogue with computer, everyone comes across these aspects on daily basis.”


Kevin McDearis, CPO at Blackbaud

“Like any of the defining technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence brings with it tremendous opportunity, but also risk. In 20 years, there is a chance that AI will entrench inequity-but right now is the moment we can change that.

That’s why I’m so passionate about catalyzing the promise of AI for social good. We’re already seeing the potential; social good organizations are using AI today to make smarter decisions in how they support their missions.

In the next 20 years, in the social good space, we’ll see AI as a critical tool to bring to life and deeply connect what we call the Ecosystem of Good-people, organizations and communities working toward social impact in a collaborative way that enhances the effect of their efforts, so we can do more good, faster, better and more effectively.”



Robin Kim, EVP and Managing Director of Global Technology and Innovation at Ruder Finn

“AI will have the potential to do every current human job as well as human beings in 20 years – not just manufacturing but information technology, law, creative services and the arts. Even sooner, by 2020 we predict that the average person will have more conversations with chatbots than humans, as emotional intelligence becomes increasingly integrated into AI products.

Yet all this doesn’t mean AI will replace humans. In fact, we expect AI to be active partners with humans, and used in ways never before thought possible: replacing prosthetic limbs, co-creating new music, even channeling our thoughts.

Even more profound, can we leverage AIs to fight disease, alleviate poverty, mitigate climate change, and solve for other complex problems? AI needs contextual understanding and empathy, inherently human qualities, to ensure the future we enable is really the one we want for all humanity.”


Jeff Evernham, Director of Consulting for North America at Sinequa

“There has been a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI) for some time now, but in most cases it hasn’t been used very effectively. As we move forward, organizations are learning how to bring together all the ingredients needed to leverage AI.

In coming years, we’ll see AI move from a mystical, over-hyped holy grail, to seeing more real-world, successful applications. Those who dismiss it as hocus-pocus will finally understand it’s real; those who distrust it will come to see its potential; and companies that are poised to leverage this capability for appropriate, practical applications will be able to ride the swell.

In the upcoming years, it will become clear that AI has a credible place in the business toolkit, and in the next 20 years, it will become a tidal wave.”


Jim Barnett, CEO and Co-founder of Glint

“We’re already beginning to see AI infiltrate many of the technologies we rely on both inside and outside of work, but with the it projected to be a $37 billion industry by 2025, expect to see many more employees and department leaders accepting AI as part of their everyday lives. Not only will AI streamline work and boost productivity, AI will transform corporate America as businesses that fail to keep up with the rapid transformation towards automation and AI-powered resources will be left behind. Meanwhile, as the once-intimidating category – encompassing technology such as deep learning, machine learning, and predictive and prescriptive intelligence – becomes more mainstream, early adopters will see a boon in creativity, productivity and success in 2017.”


Zach Holmquist, CTO and Co-founder of Teem

“In the next few years, AI will outrank industry staples like social media in terms of business value by helping to streamline every aspect of work. We’re already seeing this in the short term, for example, it is projected that by 2018, there will be 6 billion AI connected devices and over half of CMOs believe that AI’s impact on the business world will be more pivotal to the future of work than social media’s shake up one decade ago. Scheduling meetings, booking rooms and reserving resources is a job in and of itself and 80 percent of executives believe AI will eliminate this issue in the near future. Meanwhile, virtual home assistants will be an everyday staple of every workplace – personalizing interactions, automating meeting scheduling, monitoring the environment and anticipating employee and office behavior.”


Dennis Thomas, CTO at NeuraFlash

“A.I. is an enabling technology that will have a great economic impact on both our economic labor and capital. All work can be broken down into 5 parts: data, prediction, judgement, action, and outcomes. As the digital revolution made it much easier (cheaper) to collect data (think social networks or online retailers), they are now using that data to drive predictions (next best news article, item for purchase, or movie to watch). A.I. is enabling these predictions to be done faster (cheaper again).

The emphasis and growth for jobs will be on judgement, action, and outcomes the actions provide. Transformative revolutions (e.g. Industrial, Digital) have directly impacted our physical labor markets (driving workforce automation), shifting massive job growth to the services sector.

Over the next 20 years, A.I. will automate repetitive actions (predictions) and drive the next way of massive job growth emphasizing judgments and actions.”


Joe Beninato, Founder and CEO of Banter

“AI has been around for decades, and it is finally to the point where it is mature enough to actually work. For the longest time this wasn’t the case, but that has been changing very rapidly. In 20 years, AI will be part of every business in some form or another, in the same way that the Internet is now part of these businesses. We see examples everywhere. In the technology industry, almost every startup getting funded has an AI component. Transportation is another area already in progress. AI systems are impacting the cars we drive and the planes we fly in. I’m not saying your local auto mechanic or plumber will be building AI systems, but these technologies will help them interact with their customers or schedule appointments using AI. All businesses should already be thinking about how AI will affect them moving forward.”


Marc Lamber, Attorney at Fennemore Craig, P.C.

“Nothing is certain, except for constant change. If I was a soothsayer, I’d say that technology will continue to play a more and more significant and widespread role in our practice. Technology’s rapidly-changing tentacles will continue to permeate all aspects of the law.

I can envision a day when law firms will employ holographic workstations, allowing attorneys to view, process and analyze vast amounts of data in 3D and 2D environments. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the amazing potential to interact, and suddenly, the computer becomes your legal partner, allowing for real-time strategization, debate and negotiation.

We’ve already employed tools like Google Glass, iPads and wearables, increasing our interactions with our clients and juries and decision makers. In the future, perhaps technology plays a greater role in civil resolutions, and in mediums like Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) technology has the potential to make the process more efficient and more fulfilling for everyone involved.”


Sean Collins, CEO and Founder of Cinch Financial

“In twenty years, AI will no longer be an “industry” or a separate entity.  The story arc of enterprise tech tells the same story.  Twenty years ago, enterprise tech was its own discrete industry with companies like Oracle, Sun, and IBM. Unless a company actually sold tech, you just wouldn’t call it a technology company back in 1997.  

Fast forward to today: Just last week, the president of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, told a Bloomberg reporter that Goldman Sachs now considers itself a technology company, not a financial company.  Wow.  Tech is everywhere so the distinction is no longer helpful.

The same will be true with AI. It won’t be “AI”. It will be just a ubiquitous set of components that i) enhances software to adapt to unknown environmental changes; ii) interprets and extracts insights from mass data; and iii) predicts trends accurately.  Because it will be everywhere, it will be, in a sense, nowhere. Just like today with regular software, nearly everything we touch will be assisted by these components.  The biggest change is that today’s AI hype will die away.”


Scott Litman, Managing Partner of Equals 3

“The symbiosis between the individual and the machine has steadily, consistently strengthened. The relationship is nothing new, but the level of disruption we’ve experienced from it lately has had a profound impact on modern humanity. Over the next 20 years, there will continue to be an ongoing level of disruption in the market. Are we going to fully give way to robots? Of course not. But we can reasonably expect to see new opportunities emerge based on AI’s ability to take over non-value tasks and enhance individual capabilities to, in turn, achieve greater performance and results.”


Jonathan Razza, Senior Director of Emerging Technologies at Liaison Technologies

“The future of AI is looking real bright with infinite possibilities. The reality of self-driving cars is upon us and it is absolutely nuts to think about! We’ve even seen the emergence of smart homes as of late with the Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa inventions.

Soon enough, if not already, AI technology will be running our day to day lives. Our daily routine tasks will become easier and more efficient all thanks to AI so you know I can’t wait to see that day arrive!”


Stephen L. Thaler, Founder, President, and CEO of Imagination Engines, Inc.

“The next 20 years will see a significant departure from what we currently call cognitive and deep AI technologies and progress toward what would arguably be called conscious machine intelligence. There will be a dichotomy in commercial efforts, the former concentrating on rivaling human intelligence, the biggest moneymakers being forms of AI broader than those currently used in cybersecurity, medicine, and financial modeling.

The latter breakaway effort would concentrate on artificial neural architectures emulating all aspects of brain function, allowing researchers to better understand mind and consciousness, the most lucrative venture therein being the creation of the necessary download vessels for the preservation of human consciousness.

On the military front, generals and admirals will abandon the concept of one-to-many control and embrace a zero-to-many tack that allows sufficiently ‘indoctrinated’ AI to autonomously make and act upon its own ideologically-based battlefield decisions, with or without a declaration of war.”


Yoav Oz, Co-Founder of Spotad

“In advertising, more companies will focus on big data and AI. Today we are buying behavior of an audience, not media. Already we’re seeing AI platforms, like Spotad’s, automatically buying media, and performing the tasks of traditional media buyers, who’ll continue to be replaced by data analysts that help improve the accuracy of ad buying AI algorithms in real time.

I believe we’re going to be entering a playing field where we’ll start utilizing the data that the world has collected over the last 20 years. For so much data, we will need to build a brain, like a two level AI or AI for AI, to help the other AIs that will be constantly learning to make a better decisions. Also, as we see more progress in the world of VR, we’ll need to build a second e-world similar to the behavior of our world.”


Dawson Whitfield, Founder of Logojoy

“In 20 years, AI will automate most of the workforce. As AI learns, it will be able to offer the same value as humans, and it will be able to provide that value instantly and for 100x cheaper.”



About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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