Artificial intelligence and its power to transform the business world in Latin America

By Michael Puscar, Founder, Puscar Buritica Family Office, Panama

February 5, 2024

As we continue through the first months of 2024, it’s impossible to have a conversation about

technology without including artificial intelligence (AI). While the capabilities of AI have been developing steadily for several decades, this earlier took place behind the scenes for the most part. Today, the technology is a global phenomenon, with millions of users which in turn is fueling adoption by companies across all industries and verticals. 

While the big tech companies like Microsoft, Meta, Google and OpenAI are leading the pack with a stream of headline announcements detailing new AI-powered products and features hitting the marketplace, the reality is that we’ve been surrounded by artificial intelligence in our daily lives for some time now.

Multiple, invisible algorithms already live in our devices, from smartphones to robots and autonomous vehicles. AI is the silent partner that is helping us find directions to the nearest station or automatically edit posts, and its reach is only growing. 

The past, present and future of AI 

AI adoption from 2017 to 2022 has doubled by a huge 50%. The primary focus of these new adoptions includes robotic process automation, computer vision, and natural language text understanding. This explains why an unprecedented race has begun among technology giants, and various companies around the world to lead the next era based on artificial intelligence.

The popularity of this technology lies in the multiple benefits it offers companies. For example, AI helps improve the consumer experience, enables rapid innovation, improves revenue growth potential, reduces human error, and creates intelligent operations. Along with other benefits, AI will help companies in all types of sectors stand out among their competitors.

However, it’s worth remembering that the existence of this technology dates back to 1950, when Alan Turing introduced the groundbreaking new concept in his quest to crack the Enigma code. The term artificial intelligence was first coined by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig in 1995 and has since grown in popularity thanks to the democratization of the internet and improvements in storage and computing power. In turn, this has driven the development of more advanced algorithms with the ability to handle data sets of a phenomenal size.  

Since then, its adoption has not stopped growing. When I migrated to Colombia, in 2011, I did so precisely to bet on an industry that was beginning to sow its first seeds. This is how I started working on solutions based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and blockchain.

How artificial intelligence is being applied across industries

AI’s ability to transform entire industries is increasingly apparent. We can see its potential reflected in sectors such as healthcare, finance, transportation and logistics. For example, healthcare professionals can access new methods to analyze medical records, identify potential diseases, and recommend personalized treatment plans thanks to AI-powered algorithms. 

Conversational AI tools remind patients to live a healthier lifestyle, improve their diets, and take their medications with the ability to take on a name and personality to better connect with users. 

The system was inspired by a study that personalized AI programs can deliver better clinical outcomes compared to usual care for low-income older adults.

Another solution helps companies monitor their energy consumption. In this case, we’re leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to map a continuous picture of how much energy each business device is using, and how much energy is coming from the grid or from clean energy sources like solar power. 

It then analyzes previous patterns and finds ways to optimize that energy consumption by up to 40%, turning off devices when they are not needed, for example, or reducing their consumption.

The future we imagined is now

The current boom in AI adoption is because its use cases are now so broad and diverse that the technology can be used anywhere in the world. In Latin America, machine learning algorithms can analyze large data to make predictions and recommendations, while AI’s ability to automate tasks, improve decision-making and optimize user experiences is paving the way for better business growth. 

A few years ago predictions on the future were filled with ideas of robots, autonomous cars and smart factories. But that future is now today, and, likely, the next leap forward in technology won’t be too far on the horizon. 

Entrepreneurs, visionaries and innovators will be the ones building this future and, as a collective, we must be attentive to the changes taking place around us every day. 

AI has already had a disruptive impact and holds major potential for today’s economy. Adopting this technology has the power to scale businesses and gain a competitive advantage, which is why many organizations are already implementing AI sparingly and have plans for a more accelerated approach in the near term. 

Entrepreneurs in Latin America have an opportunity to go to the front and lead the digital transformation of all those companies that seek to incorporate artificial intelligence.