AI & Deep Learning

DROR BEN - DAVID, Head of 'Boston', Deep-learning R&D labs @ Matrix

AI: no longer sci-fi - the future is now

Digital personal assistants automatically placing our weekly grocery order based on what’s usually in our store cupboard. Pharmacists creating medicine tailored specifically to a person’s unique genetic code. Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with these new sci-fi-style features being added to our lives – we’ve ‘heard the stories’. Some are skeptical, others more believing. But, regardless of your personal beliefs, know this: it’s no longer a question of if, but when.

Any child of the 80s and 90s will remember leaving a movie theater having just finished watching a thriller in which AI bots are a major component of everyday life, and thinking to themselves ‘yeah, that was cool, but it’s light years away’.

Then smartphones happened. IoT suddenly became a prominent fixture of modern life. The internet exploded, presenting seemingly infinite possibilities. No one can remember a time when Twitter and Facebook weren’t around.  The impulse to cynically disregard seemingly far-fetched futuristic technological concepts no longer exists as a widespread cultural phenomenon.

They may have presented it in an overly dramatic way, but nevertheless, those sci-fi movies actually predicted what is happening today, in 2018: machines do indeed have the ability to solve problems through ‘thought processes’ similar to those of the human brain. They can be taught to see, read, listen, decode, understand and write. These new-found skills are fascinating in themselves; the way in which they can be applied, however, will fundamentally change our world.

Smart thinking
Back in the day, we would be amazed by the ability of computers to retrieve pertinent information through the use of cookies and allowing cache storing. Then, we were blown away by the way Google and other browsers started suggesting articles and videos they knew we’d like.  Today, we have adjusted ourselves to a reality in which we can conduct an intelligent, free-flowing, informative conversation with an inanimate object. Gone are the days of looking up which movies are being played at your local movie theater; today, you can settle on a movie and screening time through a quick chat with Alexa, before she places the order on your behalf, charging your credit card or PayPal account.

Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Home and other smart microphones and personal assistants being developed were all made possible due to major developments in the field of applied AI. Over the span of a few short years, they have completely transformed the way we consume products and services.

Data, data and more data
The major advantage of Artificial intelligence is that it enables the processing of huge volumes of data, which can be used to thoroughly understand users, their tendencies, preferences and areas of interest. Based on that knowledge, opportunities can be presented and ideas introduced that are suited to the consumer. So, for example, a robot can take account of every screen and item you have looked at on Amazon and combine this with its knowledge of all the shopping you’ve ever done, where, what books you’re reading, what apps you like to use, how old you are, details of your family and more. Then, it can use this information to visualize and predict what you may be interested in buying in the coming days, offering you products that specifically suit your needs, such as diapers right before your baby is due, or maybe a new bike before your son’s birthday.

Robotics
The changes brought about by AI-based robots are not just limited to the consumer sector. Armies all over the world are investing heavily, working to continually develop innovative unmanned vehicles, and we are also seeing major developments in autonomous transportation.

All of this has been made possible due to two major factors: the rapid pace at which computer processors, hardware, memory and bandwidths continue to develop; and the advent of open-source software (OSS) which significantly cuts down development times by enabling global access to large databases.

A look to the future: the challenge of change
In this new and ever-evolving automated world, it is highly likely that AI and deep learning applications will render occupations in various fields obsolete. Research has shown that within a decade, one-third of existing professions in the modern world may well be carried out by artificial intelligence.   The rate at which AI continues to develop is faster that the rate at which we can re-train people in the new professions that will be required. So when, in the not-so-distant future, we are faced with a situation where long-haul truck drivers are replaced by automated trucks, it may not be easy or even possible to retrain them all into fields that will be in demand, such as software or data science. The trick to overcoming this challenge will lie in finding the balance between riding the wave, on the one hand, and keeping our heads above water, on the other. Matrix is ideally positioned to leverage the revolution, combining the vast expertise of our teams working in the world of computing, with that development work of our world-leading artificial intelligence teams. So, watch this space… great things are already paving the way for greater things to come.

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