Quick Thoughts: Artificial intelligence—A Primer

Looking at the potential benefits, risks, and societal changes of artificial intelligence from an investment lens with Stephen Dover, Head of Franklin Templeton Institute.

Originally published in Stephen Dover’s LinkedIn Newsletter Global Market Perspectives. Follow Stephen Dover on LinkedIn where he posts his thoughts and comments as well as his Global Market Perspectives newsletter.

Suppose it’s 1794 when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Or perhaps it was 354 years earlier when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Maybe you prefer December 17, 1903, the date of the Wright brothers’ first flight? Or 1957, when Sputnik was launched into space, man’s first venture outside Earth’s atmosphere?

Those extraordinary inventions—alongside dozens of others—revolutionized how we farm, transmit information, travel long distances, or explore realms beyond our planet. Yet, they may ultimately prove to be inconsequential compared to the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI). That, at least, is how many fans and foes alike of AI view the transformative potential of machine intelligence.

In this first article in a series on AI, we offer a primer on what AI is and is not (yet). We explore how the development and diffusion of AI is like—and unlike—other technological advances. We consider the potential for—and limitations of—AI. Finally, we offer a few first conclusions about how investors may take advantage of the potential of AI in their portfolios.