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Our Prediction for the Most Important Technology of 2018

Posted by Fran Geddes on 21-Dec-2017 09:21:50
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For those who regularly read our blog or pay attention to technology developments, you will not have been able to avoid the phrase ‘machine learning’. Machine learning is a subfield of AI which allows machines and computers to operate by themselves.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting the world. Many industries are beginning to feel the impact of the technology with those awaiting the disruption likely to get a rude awakening over the next year. We predict that machine learning will be the most important and impactful technology over the next year and here’s why…


Artificial Intelligence


AI will shape our society far quicker and impactfully than any other technology in the modern age. AI props up autonomous, IoT and smart initiatives with its ability to efficiently analyse data, make insightful suggestions and predictions, as well as eliminating human input in repetitive or dangerous tasks. But, what supports the functionality of AI? Machine learning.

2017 was huge for artificial intelligence. Just as machines and computers are learning more every day, we are learning more about them. The capabilities and usages of AI have reached far beyond that of what we expected at this stage, and with the interest and investment being poured into the technology, it is likely to continually evolve.

AI’s ability to learn is the single biggest contributor to its intelligence. Machines can learn in three different ways:

Reinforcement Learning: the machine picks an action and, if correct, gets a reward

Supervised Learning: a human dictating to the machine the right/wrong answers

Unsupervised/Predictive Learning: gaining insights through observation or analysis

Currently, the first two ways are the most common but a move towards machine learning through predictive learning would act as a catalyst towards a total AI revolution. Machines learning the same way humans do would drive development at a much quicker pace. The learning and upkeep would be almost self-sufficient, meaning initiatives like autonomous cars and smart cities could be safely introduced much quicker as the software supporting it could learn and adapt with minimal human input.


Machine Learning


According to Gartner, Artificially Intelligent technologies will be present in almost every new software product by 2020. The most common uses of AI we see today are those within autocorrect, Google-powered predictions, spam filters, etc., but there are a wealth of opportunities AI presents and these will increase as its ability to learn improves.

AI’s ability to recognise discrepancies within data has proved a vital skill within finance, healthcare, transport, energy and marketing. As the machine learning capabilities develop, the possibility of what AI can do with this data increases. AI will be able to suggest intelligent insights humans may not have even considered.


Artificial Intelligence in Business

Autonomous initiatives heavily rely on AI’s ability to adapt and learn. For example, if a driverless car only responded to situations it had been previously taught, it could not be trusted to operate alone. Autonomous vehicles need to be able to recognise and respond to any dangers on the road. Our world is constantly evolving therefore, our technology will need to as well. Autonomous machinery needs evolving warning signs and know how to adapt.

This is similar to AI’s functionality in smart cities. Smart cities will revolutionise city living. City residents will experience a higher quality of life, more efficient transport links and smarter infrastructure, but AI technology needs to be responsive to societal developments. For AI to be truly beneficial, the technology needs to come up with improvements by its own initiative.

AlphaZero represented a major breakthrough in machine learning this past year. Not only did the technology beat the world’s best Go players, the software was then generalised to allow it to learn other games, mastering chess in under 4 hours. AlphaZero was supplied with the basic rules of chess and was left alone to decipher the best moves and tactics needed to win the game by playing itself over and over again.

This style of machine learning is very similar to the way we learn as humans. If machines could analyse a set of data with a basic knowledge of it’s goal, AI could be a useful tool within all industries to improve products or services, increase efficiency and lower costs.

Businesses who deploy AI in some form within their digital strategy will find them miles ahead of their competitors due to the increase in efficiency and the support offered in the decision-making process.

Whilst there are some development kits available, it is likely 2018 will see more kits introduced to encourage AI development. Artificial intelligence will rapidly alter business and societal landscapes, those who do not have an AI-focused digital strategy in place will find themselves getting lost in the disruption. Business who do not adapt their digital strategy to emerging technologies, especially those as revolutionary as AI and machine learning, will find that their level of service will be miles behind their competitors.


To discover what artificial intelligence and machine learning can do for your business, get in touch with b60 today!


Get in touch with B60


Topics: Predictions