Inaugural Post

Welcome to Artificial Intelligence Watch, a blog dedicated to spotting major trends and opportunities at the intersection of business and artificial intelligence, robotics, & intelligent automation. For convenience, this blog will heretofore refer to “artificial intelligence, robotics, & intelligent automation” as AI.

Here is a short video of a real-time conversation between two AI machines that’s sure to simultaneously make you laugh and give you the chills. If you listen to their conversation carefully, you can almost see them working out the problem through emotional intelligence (EQ) algorithms:


Is AI a lucrative industry sector?

Yes.

Some analysts argue that the global market for AI was projected to be shy of $1 billion at the end of 2013, and is expected to grow exponentially to over $37 billion by 2015.

In January 2014, Google bought DeepMind, a London-based AI firm, for $400 million. For more information on possible AI applications for Google, please click here.


So what is AI?

According to Gartner (one of the most influential voices in Information Technology), AI is defined as:

A wide-ranging discipline of computer science that at its core seeks to make computers behave more like humans. The term was coined by John McCarthy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956. Artificial intelligence (AI) attempts to resolve problems by “reasoning,” similar to the process used by the human mind. AI involves the capability of a machine to learn (to remember results produced on a previous trial and to modify the operation accordingly in subsequent trials) or to reason (to analyze the results produced in similar operations and select the most favorable outcome). Today, applications of artificial intelligence include voice recognition, robotics, neural networks and expert systems (i.e., systems that can make decisions an expert would otherwise have to make to, for example, forecast financial performance, or diagnose illnesses).

Deloitte has some YouTube videos up about Tech Trends in 2014 — here is their video on Cognitive Analytics:


But why AI?

AI is a dynamic, disruptive technology that is quickly maturing in development through myriad applications and is becoming commercially viable with high-potential adoption rates. AI is coming of age. In other words, for companies, investors, and lead users waiting for the right timing, the time was yesterday!

Gartner argues that the current trends in applications of AI are not only bounded to machines replacing humans, but also augmenting humans with technology, as well as humans and machines working alongside each other:

The first thing is to acknowledge that artificial intelligence and smart machines – including robots – are going to represent a juggernaut trend for the next decade. Re-evaluate tasks that you thought only humans could do – can you redesign how processes are performed and decisions are made within your enterprise based on new smart technologies? You’ll need to reassess this every year or two as the capabilities improve.

Look in particular at how to balance tasks between humans, software and robots to take best advantage of the abilities of each. There are still many challenging endeavors – including chess – where the best solution is a human working together with a computer.

Hire an ethicist or two, as ethical tradeoffs are going to be one of the few areas that remain firmly in the domain of humans. Computers may be able to answer a question faster and more accurately than any person, but it’s going to be the humans who decide what is the right question to ask.

hype-cycle-prSource: Gartner August 2013

For more information on Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle, please click here.


Can you talk more about current business trends for AI?

The Washington Post reported last week that VC deals are happening, Google acquired the AI company DeepMind, and Facebook opened up a new AI lab (and also recruited one of the top minds in AI, Yann LuCun of NYU).

Here is an interesting article on how AI is poised to transform e-commerce.

Additionally, according to McKinsey, AI’s role in automating knowledge work is one of ten IT-enabled business trends that will alter the business ecosystem for the next decade. Unfortunately, this high rate of innovation and adoption will inevitably lead to changes in human capital structure and also lead to innovations in the management of human capital:

Physical labor and transactional tasks have been widely automated over the last three decades. Now advances in data analytics, low-cost computer power, machine learning, and interfaces that “understand” humans are moving the automation frontier rapidly toward the world’s more than 200 million knowledge workers.

Powerful productivity-enhancing technologies already are taking root. Developments in how machines process language and understand context are allowing computers to search for information and find patterns of meaning at superhuman speed. At Clearwell Systems, a Silicon Valley company that analyzes legal documents for pretrial discovery, machines recently scanned more than a half million documents and pinpointed the 0.5 percent of them that were relevant for an upcoming trial. What would have taken a large team of lawyers several weeks took only three days. Machines also are becoming adept at structuring basic content for reports, automatically generating marketing and financial materials by scanning documents and data.

….

At information-intensive companies, the culture and structure of the organization could change if machines start occupying positions along the knowledge-work value chain. Now is the time to begin planning for an era when the employee base might consist both of low-cost Watsons and of higher-priced workers with the judgment and technical skills to manage the new knowledge “workforce.” At the same time, business and government leaders will be jointly responsible for mitigating the destabilization caused by the displacement of knowledge workers and their reallocation to new roles. Retraining workers, redesigning education, and redefining the nature of work will all be important elements of this effort.

 

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