While it is unlikely that robots will take over the world anytime soon, advances in artificial intelligence are already altering how we live and work. Now, ‘robots’ covers a broad area of study, but one technology of note is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Basically, it is teaching computers how to learn and companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are frantically researching advances in the field.
AI is not a new science and while it has existed in theoretical form since the dawn of computers, advances in the last 10-years has brought the field out of science fiction and into real life. In fact, IBM is already using their Watson supercomputer to assist Oncologists in making cancer diagnoses and outlining potential treatment options.
Whilst doctors are the final arbiters of treatment options, Watson’s ability to scan and interpret vast amounts of data is helping doctors to remain abreast of advances in cancer treatment.
For its part, Google has opened the code for its DeepMind supercomputer to developers and Microsoft has been working to open the underlying technology for its personal assistant – Cortana. Both developments point to increasing level of automation in the home and office.
According to a report issued by the Council of Economic Advisors, nearly all jobs with an hourly wage of $40 or less will be disrupted in some way by automation. While some jobs will disappear completely –- such as long-haul trucking and certain warehouse functions –- other roles are likely to become available. However, the ability for workers to take advantage of these new opportunities will likely depend on their ability to the relevant skills for a digital workforce.
While the trend might be unsettling for some, tech leaders have embraced the advances to drive growth. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is a purported fan of AI and he has publicly called for a world where everyone has their own personal assistant.
The race to develop AI-enabled technologies has heated up so much that tech companies are pillaging colleges and universities around the world to bring in the brightest minds in the space. While part of the push is to commercialize AI, another area of focus is to develop faster and smarter computers. This includes investing in the development of quantum computing. Though still in its infancy, quantum computing is positioned for major breakthroughs in the coming years.
As support from tech giants helps to push the development of AI and related technologies it is likely that the big winners will be the firms who can bring these technologies to market. Given this fact, the early winners include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM.