Can The AI Economy Really Be Worth $150 Trillion By 2025?

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    Can AI really be worth $150 Trillion within six years? (photo credit: Getty)

Artificial intelligence is set to transform global productivity, working patterns and lifestyles and create enormous wealth.

Research firm Gartner expects the global AI economy to increase from about $1.2 trillion last year to about $3.9bn by 2022, while McKinsey sees it delivering global economic activity of around $13 trillion by 2030.

By the same year, PricewaterhouseCoopers reckons on $15.7 trillion - more than the current combined output of China and India.

Tech investor Tej Kohli, however, believes the impact will be much faster and exponentially larger, however, potentially worth $150 trillion by 2025.

That’s nearly double the IMF’s forecast of $88 trillion for global gross domestic product this year but Kohli is undaunted.

Too Cautious?

“Conventional wisdom is too cautious,” he says. “The internet today is worth $50 trillion. You can take that and extrapolate it to at least three or four times as many applications to get $150 trillion.

“I don’t see how it can be any less because AI has so many different industries and applications;

“Everything that is currently on the internet can also be manifested through AI in smarter and better and more effective ways.”

Kohli made his fortune developing e-commerce payment solutions during the dotcom boom and then invested in property in emerging global technology hubs like Berlin.

He announced in June that he has ploughed another $100m into Rewired, a robotics-focused studio focused on AI and machine learning ventures that can transform businesses, revolutionise healthcare and improve and extend human life.

One Rewired investment is Seldon, a London-based tech company which claims to have developed an open source machine learning platform to enable computers to learn “faster, bigger and better”.

Another is Aromyx, a US firm developing technologies enabling the measurement and digitisation of taste and scent, which will allow for the detection and capture of new data modalities for the machine learning that is essential for AI.

Kohli has also invested $20m into esports, believing the sector to be a hyper-growth global phenomenon, says AI’s rapid growth in China.

He sees Shenzen surpassing the more regulated Silicon Valley as a global AI hub over the medium term.

Global growth of 5G coverage will meanwhile combine with increasingly ubiquitous global smartphone usage to remove technological barriers to embracing the AI revolution in a true internet of things, he argues.

Tipping Point

“We are now at a tipping point, after which AI and machine learning will grow exponentially to underpin and benefit every single aspect of human life,” Kohli states.

“I believe $150 trillion is where you get to when keeping our basic human norms and values intact. It is using AI to make our lives more efficient without radically changing our lives to the full extent that AI is capable of.”

While Kohli sees much faster and greater wealth emanating from AI, he also warns that too much hype in the absence of AI products risks a “bubble of enthusiasm” producing public disillusionment when AI products do not start quickly improving lives as promised.

“AI will only be able to change the world when there is an accessible user interface enabling more entrepreneurs to build AI products that can enable all people to access the full benefits of the AI economy,” he says.

“The core problem with AI right now is that it does not yet have an accessible and intuitive user interface that allows any individual or company to plug into the AI economy.

“For AI to become manifest and omnipresent, it needs to be as easy to create AI products as it is to create smartphone apps. Currently it’s like we have all of the parts to build a car right in front of us, but it’s far too expensive to put those pieces together.”

The Power Of Platforms

History demonstrates that early technological progression often happens slowly, with new technologies becoming disruptive only when platforms are created for entrepreneurs to create new products and applications.

Early internet development, for example, progresses slowly until the first web browsers were launched by Netscape and Microsoft.

Android and iOS had a similar effect on the limited functionality of early smartphones, while 3D printers, invented in 1984, only starting to make a disruptive impact much more recently when they adopted interfaces that were intuitive, inexpensive and easy to use.

“Once an interface is available, growth becomes exponential,” states Kohli.

“Every AI product currently relies on several elements that must work together. The internet of things needed to connect sensors and other sources of data collection to enable learning.

“Big modalities of data have to be stored in the cloud and made available for access at high speed across 5G speed networks.

“Algorithms then need to be programmed to create probabilities and patterns and stochastics from collected data, and finally an output is required – most likely as some form of robotics – for AI to use its intelligence to take actions.”

While cloud-based processors and 5G have reduced costs and platforms like G2 have enabled software developers to start integrating AI into their products and applications, making this all work together remains stubbornly expensive.

“The missing component is knowledge,” says Kohli. We need more people working on solutions that dematerialise all of the separate components of AI into a user-friendly platform. “Only then can it be democratised and used by entrepreneurs to build AI products.

“If AI becomes omnipresent across healthcare, biotech, hospitality, retail and thousands of other industries, it could hugely improve everything about human life but people first need to be fully woken up to the vast possibilities for ‘alternate intelligence’ to significantly improve their lives.

“If their first experiences are overhyped, and AI products do not start quickly improving their lives as promised, then the risk is that they will start to turn off AI before it even gets started.”

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