COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Getting from here to there takes little effort any more. From getting directions to visualizing the route, we are virtually enabled through the use of smartphones and the technology they use.

We ask our electronic devices to help us with everything from directions, emails, and texting, to creating complex schematics for building dream homes and skyscrapers. While many of us cannot see what is happening around us, we see the results of artificial and augmented intelligence (AI) in our daily lives.

“Artificial intelligence is going to have a great impact on our economy,” said Congressperson Steve Stivers after a round table discussion on AI at Rev1 Ventures in mid-August. “It can make the American economy competitive with countries that have much lower labor rates, they have much less regulation because it can allow us to leverage every individual employee in every company to do the most they can and be really productive.”

Congressperson Steve Stivers (R)
Congressman (R) Steve Stivers talks about artificial intelligence and the importance of preparing government and companies for the future. Photo by Tony Mirones

Stivers is talking about the amount of data that may have taken Albert Einstein countless chalk sticks, miles of slate boards, and weeks of calculation being calculated in milliseconds with artificial intelligence. Believe it or not, central Ohio is a hub for developing the technology, from OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center developing treatments to Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) keeping you safe during heavy traffic times. AI is all about gathering and computing data and turning it into usable information in real-time.

We already use it on our map apps that come with our phones. Have you noticed when you have the map open and there is a red line on the road you want to take, but some disembodied voice tells you that you are still on the fastest route? That is AI being used to help.

Stivers held the meeting with the companies to figure out what is going to be the wave of the future. Let us face it, data is being collected from our phones, apps, and other electronics in order to produce information.

Joseph Garrity
Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Director of Government Affairs talks about the importance of preparing for the future of artificial intelligence. Photo by Tony Mirones

Joseph Garrity is the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) Government Affairs Director. He explained that MORPC works with COTA to help reduce traffic congestion and figure out how to reduce single-occupant vehicles. Garrity noted that artificial intelligence has empowered the consumer.

When taking a taxi, the rider had no idea how much a fair would cost until the driver parks the car. With applications like Uber and Lyft, the rider now can order a ride, know what it costs before getting into a car, and the whole transaction is carried out seamlessly online.

“It gave control to the consumer,” said Garrity. “Through our discussions on Congressman Stivers roundtable, we know this is going to impact 20 percent of our workforce directly and 80 percent indirectly.”

According to Stivers, artificial intelligence will be the new economy.

“There’s no fear-mongering here,” said Stivers. “It could result in some automation of jobs and we need to realize there are some things we need to do as policymakers to lean into that and make sure that we are creating policies that might be outsourced in order to help these people.”

One of the many topics and concerns were AI taking away careers. Instead of worry, the roundtable focused on the need for job assistance training and getting the word out to workers that lifelong learning should become a norm in order to prevent learning out of a necessity because of job loss.

“We’re going through a transition in the economy like we’ve not seen since the industrial revolution,” Stivers emphasized during an interview after the event. “That’s why this panel is so important for me as a policymaker, to learn about the good upside, and what we need to do to leverage augmented intelligence and artificial intelligence and what we need to do to manage the downside.”

The forum was not to solve potential problems. Instead, to focus on what is coming in the future in order to inform government leaders what is happening. Stivers said the future is AI and the American worker needs to be ready.

“It’s a competition between the United States and China and it’s important that we win that competition or at least that we’re competitive,” he said.