Once Upon A(I) Time

Published January 29, 2024

In the era of artificial intelligence (AI), the landscape of content is undergoing a revolutionary transformation, reshaping narratives in corporate settings and beyond. As we approach this resurrection, set to unfold over four decades after the premiere of Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks and Robin Wright, AI tools take centre stage in crafting a new, unrelated film. This innovative approach involves rendering the actors more youthful in some scenes, with real-time transformations witnessed by the filmmakers.

The rise of generative AI has ushered in the rapid production of images and even the creation of songs in the style of both living and deceased singers. A notable presence on Amazon, with over 3,000 books listing ChatGPT as an author or co-author, highlights the transformative impact of AI on written content creation. While it’s still early days, 2024 serves as a glimpse into the impending changes. Three key developments will shape the narrative.

Firstly, AI is poised to redefine storytelling by enabling new and personalised formats. From films to gaming, where interactive adventures become more accessible, the entertainment landscape will witness a significant shift. The sheer volume of AI-generated content is expected to surge, reminiscent of the internet’s impact, leading to debates on labelling and the necessity of effective curation and search tools. Projections suggest that up to 90 per cent of online content could be AI-generated by 2025.

The second aspect of monitoring is the uncertainty surrounding the nature of storytelling, vlogging, gaming, and entertainment itself. Comparisons to the introduction of sound in films highlight the transformative potential of generative AI. Much like a new type of camera, AI opens doors for creative reimagining, as noted by Cristóbal Valenzuela of RunwayML, a company offering AI-enhanced software tools.

Between 2016 and 2020, Pakistan contributed 2,600 AI-centric publications, showcasing a growing focus on AI research

In the dynamic landscape of Pakistani corporates, a transformative wave is sweeping through as local companies and multinational companies embrace AI to achieve operational excellence in their processes and systems. Recognising the potential of AI to enhance efficiency and decision-making, businesses are integrating advanced technologies into various facets, from education and legal to pharmaceuticals and creative industries.

From supply chain management to customer service and data analytics, AI has become a cornerstone for driving innovation and staying competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

One striking aspect of this AI-driven revolution in Pakistani corporates is the necessity to maintain a relevantly skilled and engaged workforce. Presently, the government of Pakistan holds the 92nd position among 172 countries on the Oxford Insight AI Readiness Index 2022. To capitalise on the worldwide demand for artificial intelligence, it is imperative to address and rectify this situation promptly.

Contrary to concerns about job displacement, companies emphasise the reconfiguration of skill sets among their employees. Rather than leading to job losses, AI fosters a culture of upskilling and reskilling. As organisations adopt AI tools and automation, employees are encouraged to evolve alongside these technologies, ensuring that their expertise aligns with the evolving needs of the workplace. This approach not only safeguards job stability but also empowers the workforce to contribute actively to the AI-driven transformation.

With a median age of 22, Pakistan’s population is a vibrant labour force, and current labour market trends suggest a realisation of AI potential. According to the government, the country produces over 25,000 IT and engineering graduates annually. The IT sector employs 600,000 professionals engaged with AI, while academic institutions, including FAST, COMSATS, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, and Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences, offer dedicated AI bachelor’s programmes.

Between 2016 and 2020, Pakistan contributed 2,600 AI-centric publications, showcasing a growing focus on AI research, according to the report “Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem in Pakistan” by atomcamp . The freelancer market, earning $150 million in 2019-2020, ranks 4th globally in growth, offering IT-related services that often involve interaction with AI. This highlights Pakistan’s significant human capital involvement in the expanding tech ecosystem.

Pakistani corporates leveraging AI for operational excellence recognise the importance of fostering a collaborative environment where human intelligence complements artificial intelligence. The emphasis is on creating synergy between AI capabilities and human ingenuity, resulting in a workforce that is not only adept at utilising AI tools but also excels in areas where human intuition, creativity, and empathy play pivotal roles.

By championing this symbiotic relationship between AI and human talent, Pakistani companies are poised to unlock new levels of efficiency, innovation, and sustainable growth, ultimately redefining the future of work in the country’s corporate landscape.

The integration of AI will undoubtedly influence talent requirements. Companies need to strategise and adapt their approaches to manage the evolving demands of an AI-driven landscape. Those who fail to adopt AI soon may face challenges in staying competitive and relevant. As AI becomes an integral part of the business fabric, navigating these changes will be crucial for both individual professionals and corporate entities alike.

The writer is the head of content at a communications agency

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 29th, 2024

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