5 Benefits of AI to Know in 2024 (+ 3 Risks to Watch Out For)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Ready or not, AI is here – and it’s developing faster than ever. Learn some of the potential pros and cons of working with artificial intelligence.

[Featured Image] A worker sits at their laptop and uses artificial intelligence to automate a repetitive task, realizing the benefits of AI.

From personalized song recommendations to chatbots and self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us. Despite these conveniences, you might still be wondering: what are the benefits of AI, really? And, is it all positive, or are there actually some disadvantages to it? 

In this article, you’ll learn what AI is, explore its benefits, and consider some of its possible downsides. At the end, you’ll find courses that can help you gain a better understanding of AI today. 

What is AI? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the development of computer systems capable of performing cognitively complex tasks that traditionally only a human could perform, such as identifying patterns within a data set, making predictions, or composing a piece of writing. In other words, then, AI is all about making machines that can dynamically respond to and learn from their tasks, rather than simply performing the same, exact procedure over and over again without change. 

That’s not to say that you should expect to have an in-depth conversation about quantum mechanics with your electric toothbrush any time soon. 

AI is still in its infancy and can only be used to accomplish certain narrow tasks. Today, the type of AI that most of us interact with is really an example of weak AI, also called “narrow AI,” which is essentially AI that can perform a handful of very specific tasks, like making chess moves, analyzing data, and translating text from one language to another. Strong AI – or AI that can perform many different complex tasks simultaneously, pose questions to itself, and even learn more about the world in order to match human intelligence – is still only theoretical and has not yet been achieved. Even further away is artificial super intelligence (ASI), or AI which far surpasses human intelligence. 

Nonetheless, AI is developing quickly, and advances are being made faster than ever. In effect, the technology is becoming more widely adopted and more capable of performing a wide range of different, complex tasks. 

Read more: What is Artificial Intelligence? Definition, Uses, and Types

What are the benefits of AI? 

AI provides many benefits to both individuals and organizations alike. Although AI technology is evolving faster than ever and its uses are expanding every day, here are some of the benefits you can expect to gain from AI today and in the near future. 

1. Automate repetitive tasks 

Many of our days are filled with repetitive – and often mundane – tasks that must be completed in order to keep things running smoothly. From paying bills to organizing and managing tedious data sets, there are countless tasks that we have to complete at both work and in our everyday lives in order to do the stuff that really animates us, whether that be exploring a hobby or producing original research.

Fortunately, AI has the ability to automate many of these repetitive tasks so that we have more time to focus on the most stimulating, impactful, and enjoyable aspects of our work and life. In fact, AI is already being used to do things like cut down on wait times in call centers, grade certain kinds of school assignments, and extract, merge, and manage data from multiple sources into easy-to-understand reports. 

2.  Quickly analyze big data sets

Data is essential to the daily operations of countless organizations worldwide. Yet, while many businesses and individuals know the value of big data, few are able to effectively analyze the data at their disposal to produce the kinds of insights they need to make the most impactful decisions. As a result, many companies leave big data sets untouched as they struggle to understand how best to manage the data they already have – let alone those sets that are growing by the day, hour, or even minute. 

AI is capable of quickly analyzing these large data sets and helping organizations to better understand what they’re telling them. By identifying the patterns and trends that lie within these untouched and underutilized data sets, AI can help organizations do everything from improving the customer experience in a retail store to predicting the fluctuations of seasonal sales and designing effective social media marketing campaigns, among many other things. 

Industry example: Benefits of AI in health care

The health care industry is awash in valuable data. In addition to containing patient records that essentially track an individual’s health outcomes over time, health care facilities also contain large stores of diagnostic images, transactional payments, and demographic information. In effect, AI can have an oversized impact on how the health care industry operates and provides patient care. 

Some of the benefits AI may provide in the health care industry include the improved operational efficiency of health facilities, better patient experiences, and greater diagnostic accuracy. 

Read more: Digital Health Explained: Why It Matters and What to Know

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3. Improve decision making 

Organizations use data to gain valuable insights and guide their decision making process. However, as noted in the above section, many struggle to effectively analyze their currently available data to gain the kinds of insights they need to make such impactful decisions. 

Leveraging data analytics, AI applications can equip organizations with near real time, actionable insights that can help them make informed decisions. Today, AI is used to help guide decisions surrounding everything from customer service to investment management and health diagnoses, among many other things. 

4. Quickly generate new material

Writing, coding, and designing visuals are time-consuming processes. Today, many writers, programmers, designers, and artists spend a large amount of their time completing tedious tasks, such as composing simple web copy, creating basic designs, and implementing elementary code. Rather than fully utilizing the skill sets of these skilled workers, employers often require them to do work that is critical for their business operations but which doesn’t take full advantage of their skills. 

Generative AI, such as ChatGPT and DALL-E, allows workers and employers to quickly create simple text, code, and visuals via simple prompts. In turn, this allows organizations to quickly generate simple writing, code, and designs while their employees work on more complex assignments requiring greater creativity and insight. 

Read more: What Is ChatGPT? (and How to Use It)

5. Reduce operational costs 

Running a business can be expensive. In addition to requiring a skilled workforce, employers must also invest in programs, systems, and infrastructure (among other things) to ensure that they can operate effectively. As a result, many employers must often strategically dedicate their resources to a handful of core areas that are necessary to keep their business running but which may not help them achieve their biggest goals. 

AI can help organizations reduce their operational costs by automating certain repetitive tasks that typically require a developed workforce to perform. At the same time, AI can assist employees by completing the most mundane aspects of their work, so that they can add greater value to the organization with more specialized efforts. In effect, many employers and employees may find they can do more with less. 

The benefits of AI in education

Though it’s still in its early days, AI is already being used for educational purposes. 

In addition to powering personalized learning programs, AI can also be used to expand accessibility to learners who lack access to educational resources and can also provide real-time assessments of students’ learning progress along with feedback on how they can improve. Here on Coursera, for example, an on-page chatbot is available to answer learners’ queries so that they can gain clarity on core concepts as they’re working through a course. 


What are the cons of AI? 

Though there are many benefits to AI, there are also some potential downsides to its adoption. While there are still many unknowns about how AI will ultimately impact our society, here are just three potential cons that you should know about before adopting it in your workplace or personal life. 

1. Potential job losses 

While many employers may be happy to cut costs by replacing employees with AI, workers are understandably less thrilled about the prospect. And, the job loss could potentially be dire. According to one study published by Goldman Sachs in March of 2023, researchers estimate that approximately two-thirds of current jobs in the US and Europe are possibly exposed to at least some degree of AI automation, which could potentially lead to the loss of nearly 300 million full-time jobs globally [1].

Despite this potentially devastating job loss, researchers optimistically note that technological disruptions also typically generate new jobs at the same time that they’re making others obsolete. Yet, for some professionals who have spent years or decades in a particular field and career, such news may be little cause for celebration.  

2. Bias and skewed perspectives 

AI is dependent on data to make decisions and accomplish tasks. However, just as humans can be guided by personal biases, so too can AI programs. 

At their core, the machine learning models that power many of the AI services we use every day are really sophisticated algorithms trained on data sets in order to accomplish a particular task. As a result, AI is profoundly impacted by the data sets on which it is trained, and so, consequently, can potentially reflect the biases ingrained within that data itself. This can lead AI to make decisions or generate content based on harmful stereotypes, prejudices, and outright fabrications rather than objective facts. 

3. Lack of creativity 

Generative AI like ChatGPT and DALL-E can quickly produce content with just a simple prompt. But, while the results may be almost instantaneous, they can often lack the creativity and polish of those created by skilled professionals. 

The reason for this lack of creativity is that generative AI relies on statistical models to produce outputs based on its prompts. This means that rather than reflecting a unique artistic perspective, the AI produces content that provides the best statistical match for the prompt based on its training data. As a result, the text, images, music, or videos produced by AI often lack the originality that defines the most engaging, beloved, and entertaining work. 

In effect, organizations hoping to employ generative AI may be wise to limit the scope of its use and to rely on the expertise of creative professionals to direct the development and refinement of AI-generated content. 

Explore AI with industry experts on Coursera 

AI is a fast-developing technology that is already changing how we live and work. If you’re interested in learning more about AI, you might consider taking a cost-effective, online course on Coursera.  

In DeepLearning.AI Generative AI for Everyone course, you'll learn more about generative AI, including how it works, common use cases, and its limitations. You’ll also learn how to think through the lifecycle of a generative AI project, from conception to launch, and how to build effective prompts. 

In Google’s Introduction to Generative AI course, meanwhile, you’ll learn how generative AI works, its different model types, and some possible applications for it. 

Article sources

  1. Goldman Sachs Economics Research. “The Potentially Large Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Economic Growth, https://www.key4biz.it/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Global-Economics-Analyst_-The-Potentially-Large-Effects-of-Artificial-Intelligence-on-Economic-Growth-Briggs_Kodnani.pdf.” Accessed November 3rd, 2023.

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