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Artificial Intelligence: Where Are We Now?

May 21, 2019 No Comments

Featured article by Calvin Paige, Independent Technology Author

In a previous article about 6 digital transformation trends to watch for in 2019, we listed artificial intelligence, or AI, as the most promising trend. AI has been evolving rapidly these past couple of years, and it is only going to evolve at a much faster pace in the coming years. Everyone is investing in AI for different reasons, and we’re beginning to see AI being implemented in multiple scenarios.

Many experts are starting to worry about the fragmentation in AI development. While there are a lot of research programs and projects that involve artificial intelligence, there is no standard in what AI really is, or what it can be used for. The stakeholders behind AI development, however, see the robustness of AI as a good sign of more things to come.

Support from Universities

One of the most interesting developments in recent years isn’t directly connected to artificial intelligence breakthroughs, but rather on the number of people interested in studying artificial intelligence and its implementations. More universities, including top names like Kettering University Online, are making their AI-related programs available to more students.

In the case of Kettering University, it now hosts various engineering programs that focus on AI, including the signature MS Engineering-ECE-Advanced Mobility. This program focuses more on how artificial intelligence and the integration of computer systems make autonomous vehicles possible, as well as on how these technologies can be developed further.

The support from universities is a great sign for businesses as well. Companies who are starting to use AI and implement the technology in different ways can be less worried about a lack of talent and AI engineers in the near future. Thousands of students are digging deep into artificial intelligence and machine learning; it is a promising development indeed.

AI in Homes

Another interesting development is the way AI is now being used by the general population. If you use a smartphone, you have AI with you at all times. Services like Google Assistant and Apple Siri rely on AI and machine learning. Google even has its own Google AI department, which focuses more on developing products and services like Duplex.

When it was first introduced, Google Duplex wowed everyone. The service really highlights how much AI can help make our lives more convenient. A simple demo of Google Duplex calling a restaurant to make a reservation for you is all it takes to show the world how far AI – on consumer level – has come. This year’s Google I/O revealed even more.

Other products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home bring AI into your homes and add smart features for you to benefit from. There are also products like the Nest Learning Thermostat, which actually taps into data streams and learns in real-time. In the case of Nest, the smart thermostat can manage the interior climate to your specific liking.

Powered by Cloud Computing

The rapid growth of AI and its implementation cannot be separated from the equally rapid growth of cloud computing. Solutions like AWS and Google Cloud Platform make AI more accessible. Businesses and research bodies no longer have to invest heavily in their own data centers and servers. They can simply spin a cloud computing instance for a small fee.

The Solution as a Service (SaaS) business model of cloud computing services is also a huge plus. Gone are the big initial investments to set up a cluster of servers in the cloud. Instead, there is only a small pay-what-you-use fee. This means even you can use cloud computing and experiment with artificial intelligence, all without breaking the bank.

Cloud computing is built for AI. Containers and other technologies that are now used to further optimize cloud computing certainly make putting AI in the cloud a possibility. If engineers can put an intelligent language processor in your phone, they can certainly build a more capable artificial intelligence powered by cloud computing.

Faster Learning Process

Keep in mind that we are still a few steps away from a truly autonomous artificial intelligence. The AI we regularly use today is taught to perform certain tasks, process information in a certain way, and adapt to changing conditions. There is a learning process that helps shape artificial intelligence into a functional technology.

In a way, the teaching process can be seen as a source of that doubt we discussed earlier. The fragmentation comes from the different methods and purposes integrated into the learning process of an AI. If you teach a computer to perform a specific task, it will perform that task as its primary objective; AI simply makes it possible for the computer to improve the method it uses to perform the task by learning from data streams.

In the future, however, truly autonomous artificial intelligence is not a far-fetched dream. In fact, reports compiled by The Verge for its AI Week showed that research projects focusing on better ways to train and develop AI are beginning to impact the landscape. In one report, for example, AI can be used to crack changing codes intelligently.

What’s Next?

The big question remains: what’s next? There is no simple answer to this question. Considering just how extensive the field of AI and its implementation can be, it is difficult to predict one field where AI will excel in the future. That said, there is no doubt that AI will be used in more situations in the years ahead.

Intelligent video analysis is a good example. What started as a smart way to analyze videos is now a technology that can be used to recognize faces, license plates, and other objects. The potential application for this technology is limitless, and solutions built on top of intelligent video analysis are starting to enter the market as we speak.

Where are we now with AI? I’d say we have barely scratched the surface. Don’t let that fool you though; although there are still so many things to explore ahead, AI-based solutions – and I do mean real-life solutions – are already on the market today. The support of businesses and industries, universities, and all stakeholders will push AI further than ever.


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