Artificial Intelligence: Where Do We Go From Here?

“The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI.”   – Kevin Kelly

In 1950 Alan Turing published his landmark paper introducing the idea that computer systems could eventually ‘think’ like a human.  If you could hold a conversation whereby the machine was indistinguishable from another human – voila – The Turing Test for a ‘thinking machine’ was born. Today we know this as the broad, humanity changing topic of Artificial Intelligence.

It’s been almost 70 years…where are we today?

Vishal Chatrath, CEO puts Artificial Intelligence activity into two general branches: perception and decision making.   Perception or sensing like a human is all but solved from a researchers point of view. Much of the AI work we’ve been doing is in the area of sensing and capturing information. Sensors are good enough, memory is cheap enough, processing power has reached a tipping point to be able to capture, store and process enough data to mimic a human.

That means Decision Making is the true frontier in AI today and where much of the investment is going now.

What’s Important Now

Artificial Intelligence will change humanity. Professor Stephen Hawking stated that Artificial Intelligence will “either be the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”.  Late last year the largest of tech companies got together to create the Partnership on AI.  The organization exists as the platform for the advancement of AI to ensure best practices, to advance education of the topic and to serve as the forum for ongoing discussions.  Issues they will tackle include  ethics, economics, privacy, transparency, bias and inclusiveness, and trustworthiness of the technologies.

To further understand how ‘front and center’ this topic is to our future, look no further than the big moves being made by the largest companies.  Google, Apple, Microsoft and Intel have been in a race to acquire all things AI and infrastructure. Infrastructure investment activity is always a sign of a major shift. Google has made 11 acquisitions in this space since 2013. They acquired Deep Mind Technologies and this is core to Google’s Artificial Intelligence agenda.   Intel announced this week their $15.3B acquisition of Mobileye a computer vision company. That price is 40 times Mobileye’s 2016 annual revenue!

Intel also acquired deep learning startup Nervana Systems last summer. This acquisition allows Intel to sell a deep learning solution on boards and even supercomputers to its customers ready-to-go that out paces anything that the other ‘big guys’ have to sell at this point.  It will get this technology into people’s hands as quickly as possible, setting the stage for standards in this space.

AI Services Included

Artificial Intelligence included as Platform as a Service (PaaS) is also advancing very quickly now. Your teams can begin to work with Machine Learning, Natural Language processing and other AI techniques without starting from scratch.  Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM with Watson are the leaders in selling Artificial Intelligence services as a platform.

What are Businesses Experimenting With Now?

The transformation of the automobile may be the most important push to bring all aspects of artificial intelligence into our every day life. We’ve all heard of the race to develop the self driving car. According to CB Insights there are 33 corporations racing to be a player in this space. From Apple to Uber, investment and activity abound from all fronts.  Every component of the car is being transformed to be sense and take in data then behave accordingly.

Recently Goodyear launched a tire that can read the road and adapt to road conditions. The new Urban version adds a “bionic skin” to the tire. The skin includes embedded sensors throughout to detect things like a change in surface type for the road itself, say from asphalt to packed dirt, or to take note of things like snow and rain. Localized AI applications like this are made possible by a growing category of embedded processor and GPU options from companies like Nvidia that make it possible to enact machine learning “at the edge,” or where sensing actually happens, instead of having to shuttle that information back to big data centers.

Perhaps there isn’t a more mundane appliance than a vacuum cleaner. Dyson is leading the way with a focus on intelligent machines. We are surrounded daily with artificial intelligence. Personal phone assistants like Siri, credit card fraud detection, movie recommendations and customer service are all AI based. These applications will look elementary within the next 5 years.

Check out the Google AI website  it lets you play with many forms of AI.

The Innovation Scout can help you find the most important AI companies your company should be watching or working with now.  Let us know of your interest here.

Photo Credit: Goodyear video

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