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Productivity with AI

In my talks and writing, I try to point out pluses and minuses of AI. There are plenty of each. In my book, Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better, I discussed many of the pluses in various industries, especially in healthcare. In this blog post, I will discuss some pluses in productivity with AI.

One morning recently, I was sitting on our terrace watching the waves roll up on the beach. It was a crystal-clear day all of the way out to the horizon. Occasionally, we will see a container ship or a cruise ship. This day, there was nothing out there, all the way to the horizon. I asked myself how far is it from where I am sitting to the horizon. So, I asked Gemini AI the following question:

“I am sitting on the eighth floor of our condo building on the Atlantic ocean. What is the distance from here to the horizon?” Almost instantly, Gemini responded with the following:

To estimate the distance to the horizon from your eighth-floor condo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we can use the formula for the distance to the horizon based on height above sea level. Here’s what we can do:

  1. Estimate your height: You’re on the eighth floor. Assuming typical floor heights of around 10 feet, being on the eighth floor would put you at about 80 feet above sea level.
  2. Use the formula: There are online calculators for this purpose, but you can also use the following formula: Distance to horizon (miles) = sqrt(observer height (feet) 0.000052)
  3. Plug in your estimated height: Assuming 80 feet, here’s the calculation: In miles: Distance = sqrt(80 0.000052) ≈ 2.9 miles Therefore, the distance to the horizon from your vantage point is estimated to be around 2.9 miles. Keep in mind: This is a rough estimate. Actual visibility can be affected by factors like air pressure, temperature, and curvature of the Earth (which isn’t a perfect sphere).

I had thought about this question some years ago when one of children was visiting. We took some guesses about far away the horizon was, but they were just guesses. I said I could figure it out. I could have just Googled for a tool to do the job but I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I got a tablet and drew a diagram showing Earth and a tall building sitting on it. I was able to make the calculation but it took a while. Certainly not “almost instantly” as Gemini could do. This is just a trivial example of how AI can boost productivity.

AI can boost productivity in many ways, freeing up your time and streamlining your workflow. Following are some examples.

  • Automating Repetitive Tasks: AI excels at handling repetitive and time-consuming tasks which slow you down. This can include data entry, scheduling appointments, generating reports, or processing invoices. By automating these tasks, AI allows you to focus on more strategic and creative work.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making: AI can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and trends that humans might miss. This can be incredibly valuable for making informed decisions. For instance, AI can help with sales forecasting, risk management, or product development by providing insights based on customer data and market trends.
  • Improved Communication and Collaboration: AI can power chatbots and virtual assistants which can answer questions, translate languages, and schedule meetings. This can free up your time for more focused communication and collaboration with colleagues. Additionally, AI-powered translation tools can enhance communication across borders and time zones.
  • Personalized Workflows and Content Creation: AI can personalize tasks and content creation to individual needs and preferences. Imagine scheduling tools that learn your availability and preferences, or content creation platforms which suggest relevant topics and formats based on your audience.
  • Content Curation and Summarization: AI can sift through vast amounts of information and curate relevant content for you. This can be helpful for research, staying updated on industry trends, or finding specific information within large documents. AI can also summarize lengthy reports or articles, saving you valuable time.
  • Error Detection and Quality Assurance: AI can be trained to identify errors and inconsistencies in data or documents. This can help improve the quality of your work and ensure accuracy in tasks like financial reporting or legal document review.
  • Predictive Maintenance and Resource Allocation: AI can analyze sensor data from equipment to predict maintenance needs and prevent downtime. This proactive approach can save businesses money and resources. Additionally, AI can help optimize resource allocation by analyzing workload and assigning tasks efficiently.

These are just some examples of how AI can boost productivity. As AI technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovative applications that will transform the way we work. This will take place everywhere: big companies, little companies, for-profits, not-for-profits. Will AI eliminate millions of jobs? Perhaps in the not-too-distant future. In the shorter term, many organizations in almost all industries are facing significant staffing shortages. With AI productivity, existing staff will be able to fill needed shortages.

Note: I use Gemini AI and other AI chatbots as my research assistants. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.