Artificial intelligence (AI) is still in its infancy, yet it is driving significant improvements in the lives of both people and business operations. If its capabilities are achieving remarkable results now, the future of AI stretches the imagination. — By Karen White
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the world. That may sound like an overstatement, but the power of AI is touching almost every aspect of life and business in revolutionary ways, and the average person is not aware of many of them. The revolutionary changes AI is propelling were predicted years ago, but this advanced technology is now coming unto its own with increasing sophistication.
In the business environment, AI is already influencing safety, productivity, accessibility, buying decisions, customer services, product designs, the value of the Internet of Things (IoT), environmental sustainability practices, cybersecurity and much more. The pervasiveness of AI and its ability to become a solution to myriad problems lead to a deep respect of technology experts.
Finding Solutions to Unsolvable Problems
Detecting malicious code has always been a challenge for technology experts because of the sheer variety of ways code can be embedded. Humans cannot possibly analyze the volume of data points necessary to locate malicious coding, so this became a problem in desperate need of a solution. Harmful unwanted computer code can create security breaches such as back doors into business data files and programs, the theft of intellectual property and customer information, and interruption of the ability to operate and serve customers. AI can detect malicious code. It is a problem solver.
AI is now used in a variety of applications that include models of APIs, logo detection, OCR, speech text and content moderation, to name a few. It is used to help enterprises improve productivity, reduce costs, and develop self-healing and self-learning infrastructure.
AI is all around us now, despite being in its infancy, suggesting the most powerful applications are yet to come. It helps with predictions of outcomes; improving automation to work toward zero human touch; and optimization of performance, cost, and the customer or business experience. The technology is helping to accelerate clinical trials, reducing health care disparities by bringing equal care to underserved populations. It is used to stabilize supply chains, personalize education through curated content, and improve the delivery of entertainment based on preferences. AI drives consumer buying decisions by making product recommendations based on past buying behaviors, and it decides in chat sessions how to provide the best assistance to solve a problem.
Explosion of AI Applications
The only thing that has slowed down the utilization of AI is the need to develop the ability to harness the vast amounts of data that AI needs to achieve full functionality.
Data flows from all directions and deep learning software systems now offer the capability of powerful computing to take advantage of all that AI can accomplish. In fact, AI can take both structured and unstructured data (such as videos and images) and use it to better understand the physical world.
Over the last few years, an explosion of AI applications made obvious appearances in products like self-driving cars, but behind the scenes AI is helping businesses make enormous improvements in productivity. However, the area of prediction is where AI is increasingly taking a front-and-center position, perhaps because it can be more accurate than experts.
For example, AI algorithms are already used to predict COVID-19 outcomes based on patient characteristics, helping doctors determine the best interventions and course of treatments. It is now also used by seismologists to develop 3D seismic exploration maps, and by others to identify safety events on construction sites and power robots on manufacturing floors. AI can predict equipment failures, generating significant savings for a business by preventing unexpected production stoppages.
In the business environment, the financial services industry has been a leader in adopting AI practices, leading to higher productivity. AI is used in retail to improve operations by applying omnichannel analytics to each step of the customer experience.
The future of AI applications is so large, it is hard to imagine. There are global challenges just waiting for the technology to catch up, like tracking marine plastic in the ocean to develop productive solutions, and predicting climate related changes to address human challenges such as hunger.
For example, tech leader SAS offers AI products to retailers which allow them to uncover consumer needs by learning where and at what price customers shop across all channels and devices. AI enables pricing, sorting, and marketing down to the micro-market level; predicts future buying behaviors; and optimizes inventories. In the manufacturing arena, SAS AI capabilities help businesses by automatically detecting patterns that indicate potential quality issues, using image recognition to identify flaws to avoid scrap and rework costs, linking customer sentiment and service comments to quality and production variables to identify improvement areas, and optimizing product composition and production techniques to improve yield.
Manufacturers are using AI to monitor and improved utilization of assets, and in the future, it is expected that AI will have the ability to make corrections without human intervention. The ability to detect patterns from data analysis is at the heart of current AI applications across industries because it enables organization of information and identifies relationships. It can also make the predictions that improve decision-making.
Stretching the Imagination
Despite the current remarkable AI applications, the general agreement among tech experts is that this is only the beginning. The future of AI applications is so large, it is hard to imagine. There are global challenges just waiting for the technology to catch up, like tracking marine plastic in the ocean to develop productive solutions, and predicting climate related changes to address human challenges such as hunger.
The next step in AI is advancing deep learning through neural networks, which are designed to mimic the complex human brain. Like brain processing, the functioning of machine neural networks is not even completely understood. When harnessed to achieve complex pattern spotting and combined with natural language processing (NLP), there will be unlimited AI power. NLP has evolved into natural language understanding (NLU) already. NLU is the ability to translate language – written or spoken – into a form an algorithm can understand and respond to. Siri and Alexa, used by businesses and consumers alike, are first real-world applications, and they represent just the beginning of the future.
Looking at the remarkable applications of AI and deep learning already in place, it stretches the imagination to consider the future. But that is exactly what the technology developers are doing – imagining an AI-powered future.