Artificial Intelligence for all — this is what we can expect in 2017 (part 2 of 4)
In 2017, we will see better than ever how seemingly abstract algorithms transform into technological organisms that affect the lives of vast human communities.
Digital technologies are no longer an abstract idea that only preoccupies IT geeks. Computer-controlled cars, buildings and airports make up an interactive global network of cosmic proportions. In 2017, we will see better than ever how seemingly abstract algorithms transform into technological organisms that affect the lives of vast human communities.
“(…) I’m going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then I’ll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home — music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell”. These words, spoken by Mark Zuckerberg a year ago, perfectly illustrate commonly-held notions about how Artificial Intelligence may enter our homes and become part of our daily lives. A few years earlier, he would have sounded like a dreamer, but today no eyebrows are raised. What is more, such technology already exists and is sold commercially.
These are all things that the average Joe has access to through the development of Artificial Intelligence. After all, drones, autonomous vehicles and robots provide best evidence that machine intelligence has become a part of life. The story of the Tesla brand, which received a lot of publicity last year, shows that artificial intelligence is set to change the face of personal mobility. Contrary to the predictions of skeptics, autonomous vehicles may well improve traffic safety, while autonomous trucks seriously affect the economics of hauling goods. Even today, it is clear that Tesla cars are not Elon Musk’s last word in revolutionizing transportation. Suffice it to mention the Hyperloop project. A new ultra-fast urban rail transit system is now being tested and may become reality in selected cities even this year. Smart tools such as screwdrivers fitted with interchangeable head bits switched automatically as needed, operated by a bespectacled human with an image of repair procedures superimposed over his view of reality (augmented reality) will help not only to speed up certain repairs and machine readjustments, but also cut costs, accelerate manufacturing and allow production customization in response to individual requests and desires.
Smart applications are spreading ever faster. They are used for learning and entertainment as well as day-to-day work in the office. Simple virtual assistants are already available for personal computers and smartphones. Such solutions save time during the performance of daily tasks, helping — for instance — to manage and send e-mails according to precisely-defined rules. Top global companies increasingly use analytical programs that process data to ever more complex specifications. One popular trend is to use applications that combine transactions and analytics. These allow persons responsible for data entry to analyze data on an ongoing basis.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
The past year was crucial for augmented and virtual reality for a number of reasons. The former gained popularity on the back of the Pokémon Go success. Fans of traveling in virtual spaces got their own treat with the market launch of the Oculus Rift headset made possible by a spectacular crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Both technologies are growing by leaps and bounds, driven in popularity by the enthusiasm of individual users who are equally enthralled by the virtual overlay on reality (AR) as they are by the chance to explore colorful virtual worlds. The next step in advancing the two technologies may result from initiatives within the medical industry. VR and AR solutions appear to be ideal for training future doctors in virtual operating rooms. Architects will be offered a perfect creativity tool while industry may use AI to bring to customers considerably more sophisticated product information that is also easy to understand.
Internet of Things
We are entangled in a global web which grows daily with the connection of every new device. The world today is home to more than 10 billion devices with autonomous web access. It is therefore reasonable to look for ways to ensure that all these desktops, smartphones, household appliances, on-board car computers and Wi-Fi stations communicate efficiently with one another. The authorities of the Korean town Songdo have already found an answer. They decreed that all public spaces, private homes and streets be fitted with sensors that enable global mutual cooperation among every electronic device physically located in their city. If they succeed, they will create the smartest town on the planet. Note that all the devices hooked up to the global network generate an enormous amount of data. The next challenge is therefore to process the data and use it for the development of services and the advancement of humanity in general. The fact of the matter is that the Internet of Things is the most powerful source of big data.
The message is us
Many years ago, the well-known communications theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the term ‘global village’. He claimed that as the mass media grow exponentially, they gain independence becoming autonomous entities. Their role in recording events becomes secondary. While his observations are no less valid today; the world has grown even more complex with its digital avatars, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. With each passing year, the world is being redefined with the borderline between us — people — and digital images, messages and content becoming increasingly blurred. This year will certainly bring many social phenomena that will take the trend even further. What will be the new Pokémon Go? I don’t know, but I am sure that we are all bound to see one.
Other articles in the series:
- Artificial Intelligence as a foundation for key technologies
- Artificial Intelligence for all
- The lasting marriage of technology and human nature
- Technology putting pressure on business