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A Medical University of Vienna study just investigated the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to address societal megatrends and analyzed its proposed solutions in dealing with these global challenges. In a press release, the institution explained that AI can offer understandable insights into the complex and cross-cutting issues of megatrends, and how they could change and benefit in different areas if AI systems are deployed. The findings were currently published in the journal Systems.

Exploring megatrends

The study by Daniela Haluza and David Jungwirth of MedUni Vienna’s Center for Public Health used OpenAI’s Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), a more powerful version of the currently popular ChatGPT chatbot, to analyze the potential of AI for societal megatrends. These are major global issues such as digitization, urbanization, globalization, climate change, automation, mobility, global health issues, aging population, emerging markets, and sustainability. Interaction with the AI was done by entering questions, and the generated responses were analyzed. The study concluded that AI can significantly improve understanding of these megatrends by providing insights into how they might evolve over time and what solutions might be implemented.

“Our exploratory study shows that AI provides GPT-3 with easy-to-understand insights into the complex and cross-cutting matters of the megatrends and how they could change and benefit in different areas if AI systems are deployed,” Haluza explains. “In addition, GPT-3 has illustrated several solution ideas for each of the ten societal megatrends and provided suggestions for further scientific research in these areas,” Jungwirth adds.

Still more to achieve

The author team notes that while much work remains to be done before the use of AI tools such as GPT-3 will have a tangible impact on societal megatrends, there is ample evidence to suggest that they will have a positive impact if used correctly. The researchers also suggest that further research should be conducted on how best to use new AI technologies to address these challenge.

The study also acknowledges that while AI systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated, they are not yet infallible and can still make mistakes or produce incorrect results. Haluza takes a realistic perspective on the current hype surrounding artificial intelligence. “One problem is also that AI GPT-3 only provides useful answers if the question is very precisely formulated, and even then it simply invents content without labeling. Garbage in, garbage out.”

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