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Asena Atilla Saunders
Asena Atilla Saunders 31 August 2017

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Predictions for 2018

With the smooth integration of artificial intelligence into our daily lives, we are now living in the era that we used to watch in sci-fi movies. All the mesmerising inventions in those movies are “given” now, and it is getting harder to blow our minds when the self-driving and talking dream car of our childhoods “KITT -in Knight Rider” is just a “car”, and those futuristic video calls in “Back to the Future” became just ordinary daily calls for us.

Well, we might not be “wowed” that easily nowadays, however the future of Artificial Intelligence is looking quite interesting for 2018 and the near future with the attempts to apply reinforcement learning to problems, which enables machines to model human psychology in order to make better predictions; or contesting neural networks with generative adversarial networks algorithms which requires less human supervision and enables computers to learn from unlabeled data; making them more intelligent.

Let’s leave the details to Artificial Intelligence scientists and take a look at the most exciting developments in various fields that we will benefit from in the near future;

Healthcare- Are We Going to be Superhumans?

Probably one of the most researched and studied areas in Artificial intelligence is healthcare – as it is a matter of life and death. A very important application of Big Data and AI technology to the healthcare industry that has started to be a new trend; is the area of “personalised medicine” or “precision medicine”. Since medicines and treatments are tailored for large populations and statistical data, the current efforts focus on identifying symptoms. However with this new approach, which is based on data (patient medical history, present outbreaks, environmental determinants, clinical studies etc.), machine learning algorithms and precision molecular tools; it is now possible to understand mechanisms of disease and match up individual problems with personalised treatments. Precision Medicine Initiative Project (created in 2015 by USA Government) states their short-term goal is to expand cancer genomics to develop better prevention and treatment methods. Within a year they aim to build a comprehensive scientific knowledge base by creating a network of scientists and initiating a national cohort study of one million Americans to expand their understanding of health and disease.

Advanced healthcare technology has already provided us sensory abilities such as better vision and hearing; and with the entrance of AI, now we have intelligent prosthetics for manipulation. Since the first-ever integrated lower limb that behaves like a human leg has been created in 2016, it was milestone of next generation of prosthetics with its AI platform. In fact this year, a bionic hand which knows what it’s grabbing with an AI-powered camera has been developed. Since the system and the AI software that recognises objects are cheap, within one year we will see more sensors implemented to prosthetics, in order for them to detect things like pressure or temperature- another step closer to organic limbs. Future systems will also be able to communicate with our brains, which will significantly reduce the limitations that amputees deal with, and they will make life easier for elderly people; or maybe create cyborgs.

The last important AI application in the healthcare industry is Robot Assistants. For many patients or elderly people, AI is at a stage where replacing robots instead of people is getting more common. Robots help people with daily activities; making sure they take their medications or notify someone when they don’t get out of bed etc. In fact a Japanese company has made the first big step toward a robot companion “Pepper” in 2014, which is able to understand human emotions in addition to developing its own. Pepper went on sale in 2015, sold out within a minute. In 2016, it was put on the market in different countries and started working at Belgium hospitals. By the end of this year, they are planned to be placed at more hospitals and homes as healthcare assistants.

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Finance– The More Data, The Better

Artificial intelligence and its subsets machine/deep learning are recently the hottest trends in the Finance industry.

AI and machine learning techniques are being used in real-time data processing in contract, compliance and regulation intelligence, risk management, trade monitoring and intelligent cash management where millions of unstructured and fluctuant data can be processed and analysed simultaneously– leaving no room for human errors. When this is the case, big data management is not a big concern anymore. Therefore predictions show us that in 2018, finance organisations will focus more on collecting and analysing more data across cultures and geographics such as customer behaviours, location, socio-demographics, spending patterns and earnings etc. in order to visualise customer information better and offer more personalised services.  

AI will be also used more in fraud detection where deep learning is used for delivering predictive models of transactions based on attributes such as their likelihood of being fraudulent. As an example, in 2016 Citi Group started correlating data from multiple, unrelated and various sources which they believe has the potential to catch fraudulent activities earlier than current methods. They claim that this doesn’t only improve fraud detection, but also decreases the number of false positives. More financial institutions are planning to leverage AI for fraud detection and apply machine learning to connect relations between different customers, transactions, and graphs of cash flow patterns with enhanced visualisation capabilities.

The finance industry will continue to proactively deploying AI technologies. As a matter of fact IDC Financial Insights predicts total IT spending by financial institutions globally will exceed $310 billion by 2019 which proves to us that we will be seeing more use cases in the future.

Customer Experience- Rise of the Virtual Assistants

One of the most beneficial outcomes of AI for customer service we will see in next years is Personalisation. AI algorithms will able to track, analyse and visualise customer data (behavioural, demographics, location etc.) in order for organisations to determine the customer identity and in addition to recommend the best service.

In addition to better identifying consumer preferences, AI tools will react with insight and emotional intelligence soon. Therefore, another application where we will not only hear about but also start to experience in 2018 is Virtual Assistants,Chatbots or Roboadvisors. They won’t just only understand emotions and act proactively, but they will also suppress language barriers, which is currently a big disturbance in customer services. Customers will easily have conversations in their own languages, and chatbots will understand their problems and give recommendations accordingly. When added the increased speed; these improvements will definitely build more meaningful relationships with customers; maybe better than humans. When this is the case; we can say that there will be an explosion of companies focused on enabling chatbots and digital assistants within a year.

Workforce- Are Robots Taking our Jobs?

Organisations are already harnessing Artificial Intelligence technology to reduce the time and effort spent on routine, frequent and repetitive operational tasks (Accentura survey ‘Benefits of Robotics in Financial Services’ indicates that in some areas in the Banking industry, time to perform tasks was reduced by up to 90%). With the addition of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants that can understand human emotions and act proactively, more jobs will be performed by machines by the end of 2017.

This might sound threatening at first, since it looks like humans are likely to lose their jobs to machines. However as more jobs become automated, there will be more people working on the automation (training, building, maintenance, repairing etc.). Therefore next year, we will see new types of jobs and organisational roles within the industries. Also Artificial Intelligence will open employees up to the ability to be creative and direct them to higher-value tasks and more strategic activities.

Another important point is; machines will be taking over most of the dangerous jobs. Currently drones are used in bomb defusing (still requiring human control) however, AI integration will be also used for controlling the drones in the future. Other hazardous jobs will be also reconsidered for AI integration. For example welding, well known for producing toxic substances, intense heat, and loud noise, will be outsourced to robots in most cases that will prevent humans from bodily harm.

Conclusion

2016 was the first year when Artificial Intelligence started to be in our lives truly, with significantly increasing startups developing remarkable projects. In fact AI startups have attracted over a billion dollars in exits in 2016. This year and next year; we will not only see more startups with more sophisticated products, but also see new players other than US-based tech companies, such as China. With clear benefits across industries, AI will be integrated more into our lives and continue to revolutionise our world.

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