Two of the big buzzwords in tech these days are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Those who understand these technologies know that together they will have a dramatic impact on pretty much everything it is applied to in the future.
But for consumers, AI and ML are still a real mystery. Because of various movies that highlight AI like characters who are mostly villains, the broad consumer top-of-mind paints AI in a very negative light. And with Elon Musk and Bill Gates warning us that AI could be very dangerous in the future, you can see why consumers are confused and even scared of this type of technology today.
I am not an expert in AI or machine learning by any means but I have worked on various projects that use AI and ML and understand why these technologies are important and how, when used properly, the will be transformational to every industry and every individual in the future.
Perhaps the most important application that AI and ML are being applied to today is in the field of medical research. Late last year I was at an Intel event on AI, and they shared how they were partnering with multiple cancer research centers to use AI and ML to search through billions of data related to cancer research in the quest to find a cure for cancer. And in talking with multiple people in the field of medical research lately, they too are using AI and ML in their quest to find better ways to treat diseases like diabetes, MS, blindness just to name a few.
AI and ML will also be critical when it comes to delivering on the promise of self-driving cars. These technologies will be used for crash avoidance, predictive analysis of road and weather conditions and a whole host of other functions that will be needed for an autonomous vehicle to operate properly and safely.
I could spend a lot of time detailing AI and ML’s use in industry and business, but as a consumer, I am highly interested in what AI and ML can do for me today and in the future. This is where the concept of an ‘anticipation engine’ comes in and helps me explain how AI and ML can be used in practical ways today and in the future.
One of the simplest examples of AI and ML comes in the way my calendar and mapping software work together now. When I put an appointment in my calendar and add a location address, as soon as I get in the car and start to go to that appointment, it tells me how long it will take and then displays the directions on my in car mapping system. This AI function is anticipating where I am going and automatically feeding me the details relevant to my driving to that meeting.
The Nest Thermostat uses AI to anticipate the proper temperature settings based on your schedule. It can keep the temperature at a set neutral range when not at home and then if it knows the time you get home, either raise or lower the temperature so that it either is warmer or cooler depending on the outside temperature.
In fact, most of the smart home controls are moving to use AI and ML too, over time, learn a person’s needs and preferences and apply their function ahead of a person needing it. Amazon and Netflix use AI and ML to make recommendations on what to by or what to watch in each of their services.
Using this anticipation engine concept, you can imagine a lot of interesting and very helpful consumer applications. For example, one app I would like would be if I put into the calendar a restaurant name and location and before I even head off to that meeting I get an alert that gives me reviews on that restaurant and suggests alternatives should I find the reviews of that chosen restaurant not to my liking.
Or if I had been searching for a new car (which I am doing now) it could collate all of my searches I have done so far and brought back to me a report on the best vs. worst options I would have based on the models I have been looking at.
These consumer examples are relatively basic but when I use these examples to explain AI and ML to friends they can see that AI and ML can be much more relevant to them than they had thought or considered.
But as I stated initially, AI and ML will be highly transformational, and one of the more interesting speeches on AI comes from a Kevin Kelly Ted Talk entitled “How AI can bring on a second industrial revolution.” There have been many who have postulated on the concept of the next industrial revolution, but Mr. Kelly’s presentation on the role AI will play is both a critical consideration on this topic as well as fascinating in its scope.
The Ted Intro describes Kevin Kelly’s Ted Talk this way:
“The actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable, but the general direction is inevitable,” says digital visionary Kevin Kelly — and technology is much the same, driven by patterns that are surprising but inevitable. Over the next 20 years, he says, our penchant for making things smarter and smarter will have a profound impact on nearly everything we do. Kelly explores three trends in AI we need to understand to embrace it and steer its development. “The most popular AI product 20 years from now that everyone uses has not been invented yet,” Kelly says. “That means that you’re not late.”
If you want to get a better handle on AI and its transformational value, watch this Ted Talk.I believe it will help put AI in a new light and make it even more relevant to business and consumers.