Opportunities for developers in AI

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently one of the biggest battlegrounds for top technology companies (and nation states).

Big companies like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google are all trying to leverage the power of machine intelligence to turn a profit while global superpowers like America and Russia are close to sparking a new arms race – this time with robots.

It can be easy to get caught up in the hype of AI – but there is a lot of hope for the technology and you don’t need to be part of the technological super-elite to see it.

A new report commissioned by the government has made a series of recommendations to help UK companies leverage the countries place at the centre of a lot of AI research to create new transformative technology solutions.

Indeed, there have been many small-scale AI start-ups that have dreamed up huge industry-altering designs (some of them going on to be snapped up by big technology companies in life-changing deals).

So how can developers spot opportunities in the market and change the world with AI?

What’s possible with AI

The promise of AI is only limited by our imaginations. From winning game shows to unmanned space and ocean explorers – AI has the power to make a real difference in the world.

But it can also transform everyday tasks in significant ways. Think how the widespread availability of driverless vehicles would change your everyday life. It could revolutionise not just the computing industry, or the software industry, but almost every industry we encounter on an everyday basis.

To understand the potential of AI and what opportunities are open to developers, it is important that we understand what AI is and how exactly it can help.

How does AI work?

To be considered artificially intelligent, machines should perform four basic processes. They should be able to sense, reason, act and adapt based on experiences.

  • Sense – AI must be able to pick out key signals buried in a wealth of information.
  • Reason – AI must be able to interpret context, set an outcome and plan how it will be achieved.
  • Act – AI must be capable of instigating action.
  • Adapt – AI should be able to gather its own data to improve algorithms and get better. This is known as machine learning.

Any task of function where these processes can be implemented by a machine, AI can be implemented.

Opportunities for AI developers

Developers who are hungry to transform society should start by exploring the potential of AI in industries they know well. Insider information about the complexities of certain industries should put you at an advantage when it comes to developing AI solutions.

Identify problems or things that could be improved and think how the above processes could help address them.

Using this approach also means that you can make a significant impact on an industry that you feel passionate about.

To help you here are some examples of industries and AI platforms that have helped improve them.

Ecommerce

Although it may feel like it has been around forever, online shopping is a relatively new trend. But it has changed a lot in that time. Now, ecommerce giants like Amazon are leveraging the power of AI to help them sell more goods. They use self-refining algorithms to suggest products we may be interested in purchasing.

Amazon’s home-based virtual assistant Alexa uses artificial intelligence to decipher speech, interpret meaning and make a whole range of actions. It can search the web, schedule appointments and, critically for Amazon, make online purchases with very little effort.

Thermostats

Smart thermostat company Nest is well known as a stalwart of the Internet of Things industry, has stepped up its efforts with AI this year. Now billed as a ‘learning thermostat’ the Nest system learns about your home, your boiler and considers the weather in order to operate at maximum efficiency.

The system also learns about you, so it can try to predict your personal heating and cooling needs.

Travel

Instalocate is an AI personal travel assistant designed to look after you on trips. The system uses a group of AI assistants to reduce travel day anxiety. It uses conversational UI and voice to understand users and improve their travel experience.

The system tracks your flights in real time, predicts possible problems with your journey and helps you claim for compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled. It can also be accessed as a chatbot through Facebook Messenger.

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