15 June 2024, 08:07
By Paul Farley May 30, 2024

How AI is set to impact the furniture industry

As artificial intelligence (AI) makes inroads across the industry, Furniture News looks at the reasons for and against its more widespread adoption, and some of the applications furniture brands have already brought to market …

In 1952, computer scientist Arthur Samuel developed a program to play draughts, resulting in the world’s first self-teaching computer.

Arguably, thus began the history of artificial intelligence (a term coined three years later) – but look at where we are today. We use AI to plan our driving routes, unlock our phones, write and correct our messages, make electronic payments and control our home appliances. Online, the content we see, the service we receive, the sites we visit and the choices we make are all directed by AI.

Indeed, AI has found a place in almost every walk of life, from our healthcare systems, manufacturing and fulfilment processes, to banking, education and security – and everywhere it exists, this ‘smart’ technology is becoming exponentially smarter.

According to Government research published in 2022, around one in six (15%) of UK businesses had already adopted at least one AI technology, a proportion principally driven by larger companies, more than two-thirds (68%) of which had embraced AI.

Solutions for data management and analysis were most prevalent (9% of UK firms having adopted them), followed by natural language processing and generation (8%), machine learning (7%), AI hardware (5%), then computer vision and image processing and generation (5%). The overall adoption rate is set to reach 34.8% by 2040 – that’s 1.3 million UK businesses using AI.

The world is entering a new industrial age, in which machine learning promises infinite potential for automation and scalability across every aspect of business, from design, development and manufacturing to purchasing, process management, communication, fulfilment, marketing … and new areas which haven’t yet been conceived of.

And while AI is poised to enable, optimise and accelerate business like never before, it also threatens significant disruption – to our way of life, our jobs, and, arguably, our reason for being. Like the industrial revolutions before it, this shift will be seismic, and we have little idea how many casualties there could be.

Such ethical concerns are among the barriers standing in the way of more widespread adoption. Research by Forbes Advisor has found that 59% of Brits are concerned about the use of AI, their main fear being dependence on the new technology and the loss of human skills.

Beyond the ethical issues and resistance to change, other factors are impeding the progress of AI in business – including cost, data security, difficulty of integration, and a lack of clarity around the available technologies.

Fundamentally, however, AI is here to stay, and, whether they embrace it or not, every business must consider what impact it could have.

Read the feature in June's issue.


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