For many people, the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) reminds them of the sci-fi movies and novels they grew up with. They think about robots taking the jobs of human workers, and in some cases, they might think of a terrifying future where humans are enslaved by evil robot overlords.
These impressions are understandable: Popular culture has done a pretty good job of making us wary of AI. Think of all of the movies where an artificial intelligence system goes awry and starts harming people.
Just to name a few, you have characters like HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Skynet from the Terminator franchise, and in a more recent take on scary AI, you have the robots that inhabit the amusement park of HBO’s Westworld.
It’s all rather unsettling when you think about it, but that is Hollywood’s idea of artificial intelligence technology. In the real world, AI can be used for a variety of purposes that range from customer service with a Facebook AI chatbot to turning on your lights at home with Amazon’s Alexa. At this point, you probably encounter various AI systems every day.
AI in the World of Business
Putting the fiction aside, we can see that the use of AI is growing, and that more companies are starting to invest in its development. Artificial intelligence is already shaping our shopping experiences, the way we use the internet, the fraud protection that keeps our bank accounts safe, and more. With advances in technology and more money going to research, we can expect to see AI changing our lives and the ways we do business even more in the future.
Through advancements like the increasing availability of parallel processing, the expansion of cloud computing, and newer training techniques for machine learning, AI is expected to see amazing growth in the near future. Businesses are using this technology to drive high-level decisions and they are applying machine learning to sort through vast amounts of consumer data. Most of these opportunities would not have been there just a few years ago.
2017 has been one of the biggest years for investment in AI. A recent report showed that 80% of enterprises have already invested in AI systems, and that many companies expect to dedicate a role for Chief AI Officer in the future.
It’s no surprise that companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all invested heavily in AI technology – but it isn’t just tech companies that are getting in on the game. There has been a huge rush to invest in and buy AI companies and that includes the likes of automotive giant, Ford Motor Company. Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to invest $1 billion dollars in Argo AI. It is a five-year deal that Ford plans to use as a means to develop autonomous vehicles.
With so much money going into artificial intelligence from such a diverse range of companies, you can expect plenty of exciting developments to come in the near future. The advancements in AI technology will help businesses develop better products and make better business decisions. Consumers will have products and services that apply AI to make the experience more personalized, intuitive, and convenient. In some cases, these developments are not a thing of the future; we can see them changing the way things are done in the world even today.
How Businesses are Using AI
All of the advancements in technology and large investments have interesting implications for the future, but artificial intelligence is already having a major impact on the business landscape. Companies are using AI to help inform major business decisions, and they are using it to improve the products and services that we already enjoy.
As one of the most popular on-demand video services in the world, everyone is familiar with Netflix. Todd Holloway, the Director of Content Science and Algorithms at Netflix, and his team use machine learning to gain insights into consumer viewing habits and preferences.
This plays a major role in how Netflix invests the billions of dollars that they spend on content for the service. Along with that, Netflix users encounter artificial intelligence every time they look at their recommendations. With the integration of AI into their research, Holloway presents Netflix users with better viewing suggestions while acquiring more information for greater audience targeting.
There’s also discovery platform, Pinterest, which is using machine learning to help people find the content that will be most interesting to the individual. On Pinterest, content recommendations are driven by an algorithm that uses machine learning.
By parsing billions of user interactions, the site can deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. It even goes beyond recommending content that you know you are interested in: the algorithm can also deliver suggestions that the user may have not even known they would want. When machine learning is utilized, it can adapt to learn customer behavior to the point of going beyond exact searches, and provide material it believes the user would prefer without specifically asking for it.
We are starting to see a shift to where we are talking to computers and smart devices instead of typing commands. This would include personal assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa.
A big hurdle for many of these AI systems is Natural Language Processing and Generation. Machine learning is being used by many companies to improve the ability of machines to process language and generate responses. This will make for voice command systems that can understand more complex commands and provide a wider range of potential responses.
We have entered an era where artificial intelligence is going to play an ever-increasing role in the world of business. Companies are going to rely on it more to inform the decisions that they make, investors are going to manage money based on the insights of AI systems, and it is going to be used to make products and services better for the consumer. The companies that are looking to the future are investing in AI now, and they are the companies that are going to have an edge in the markets of tomorrow.