2017 Emerging Tech Trend Coverage: Artificial Intelligence

2017 Emerging Tech Trend Coverage: Artificial Intelligence
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The Development of Artificial Intelligence in 2017 


The first quarter of 2017 has come to a close, and a lot of tech trends and predictions made at the beginning of the year are already being realized. Emerging technologies are maturing with more defined use cases and strategic direction. In this post, we focus on the development of artificial intelligence (AI), looking at how automation technologies have begun to unfold in the business world.

AI has been all over the news, especially with Elon Musk’s announcement of his latest venture, Neuralink, focused on augmenting the brain to keep up with AI. In recent years, AI has been dubbed as an overhyped and risky emerging tech, but it is finally gaining notice as an important component for the enterprise to stay competitive.

Customer Experience

As mentioned in our last look at tech trends, Gartner research predicts that 89% of companies will be competing on the basis of customer experiences this year. One of the most common AI enterprise use-cases is customer service. According to a study by Oracle, nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to implement AI as part of their customer service operations.

KLM, the prominent Netherlands-based airline, uses an AI solution layered on top of Facebook Messenger to interact with customers and provide quicker response times. An AI bot processes a customer’s inquiry, and based on their need, provides a customer service agent with a series of responses. The agent can then select the best response the bot should reply with. The more interactions the bot has with customers, the better it will get at understanding and generating responses to customer inquiries.  

The Walt Disney Company is another example of an enterprise utilizing AI to enhance customer experiences. They recently announced at SXSW that they are working on encoding AI into robotic characters to interact with guests in particular ways that are true to the characters’ personalities. An example of this is a programmed Star Wars robot that roams around the park on its own and interacts with guests. It appears that image recognition and NLU (Natural Language Understanding) are points of emphasis with regards to Disney’s use of Machine Learning. They are taking enterprise AI use-cases to the next level.

Image Recognition

On the consumer side, one direction AI may be heading in 2017 is adding meaning and context to visual media. Technology is getting better at extracting data from images and providing context to that image. For instance, the ability to link an image of a basketball player hitting a game winning shot to their Wikipedia page, and extend metadata to automatically provide information such as particular games that player has won. Google is working on finding the intent of an image. Take for example, a picture of food at a restaurant. Google can determine if that picture was meant to be personal or shared. Research is also being done using emojis to provide picture intent. UC-Irvine professor, Ramesh Jain, recently gave a talk at SXSW on his findings for this topic. He is looking to narrow sources of data so that he can extract what is happening in the image itself. As this field of machine learning advances, it’s possible we may see a shift from a document oriented web to a visual web.

Mission Data’s Creative Director, Todd Buddnikas, at the AI age prediction at SXSW

Health and Wellness

Lastly, AI will play a role in the overall well-being and health of individuals. We may be getting closer to a point where artificial intelligence will be able to predict when people get sick, based on biometric data collected through smart devices and wearables. For example, someone may not want to schedule a meeting for a particular day because based on their past patterns and biometric data, the machine learning system predicts they will be sick on that day. That example may be a little bit of a stretch, but it is currently being explored, and illustrates a unique aspect of how machine learning can be applied. The ability of AI to predict sickness like we predict the weather is an exciting direction it can take into preventive care.

Although we are still a ways off from seeing the kind of AI portrayed in “I, Robot” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the massive amounts of data produced and increased processing power of machines has allowed AI to make significant strides in providing real business value and improving the lives of consumers. There are a number of other technologies that we did not cover in this post but are looking forward to talking about in the next, specifically the Internet of Things, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Natural Language Processing.