If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
The narrative that often accompanies most stories about artificial intelligence these days is how machines will disrupt any number of industries, from healthcare to transportation. After all, technology already drives many of the innovations in these sectors of the economy. The definitively low-tech fashion industry would seem to be one of the last to turn over its creative direction to data scientists and machine learning algorithms. However, big brands, e-commerce giants, and numerous startups are betting that AI can ingest data and spit out Chanel. Maybe it's not surprising, given that fashion is partly about buzz and trends--and there's nothing more buzzy and trendy in the world of tech today than AI.
The insurance industry has been very risk averse industry. Traditional carriers have been typically laggard in adopting emerging technologies until 2010s. However, insurance companies has not been new to big data, predictive analytics and modeling. They have been designing, selling and servicing data products to many industries and consumers. With advent of AI and technology capabilities to mine unstructured data from several new sources and sensors, insurance industry is going through a significant disruption.
It seems like artificial intelligence is taking over the world, leaving many of us non-techies feeling terrified. Yet when you stop to think about it, we all use artificial intelligence (AI) every day. When we Google something, use Siri on our smartphones or ask Alexa a question, we are using AI. Hollywood has certainly featured AI in many movies from "The Terminator" series to "Robocop" and "I, Robot." In "Minority Report," algorithms predict who is going to commit a crime, and the person is arrested before the crime can be committed.
These startups are applying AI to discover new drugs, remotely monitor patients, securely transfer patient data, and more. Healthcare has become a crucial area for artificial intelligence research and applications. Startups in the space are leveraging AI technology to help individual consumers, clinicians, and hospital systems improve everything from fitness to clinical trials to diagnostics. For example, consumers are adopting virtual assistants to inquire about symptoms and using applications to track fitness metrics. Meanwhile, radiologists are using computer vision to discern between malignant and benign cells, while hospital systems are deploying AI-driven software to analyze the financial risk of individual patients on behalf of insurers.
With the AI revolution solidly underway, tech's top 5 companies are investing huge amounts of money into AI development and AI engineering talent. Meanwhile, VC investments in AI startups are at all time highs, too. And in between the startups and the top 5 are the Fortune 500 companies -- the companies with the most data that stand to benefit most from machine learning -- who are just not able to compete for talent. AI talent is either going for huge money at the top companies or for a moonshot at a startup. That means most of the Fortune 500 are being squeezed out of the AI revolution.
After the last financial crisis, the interest rates decreased exponentially and venture capital suddenly became an attractive option to achieve high returns. However, in only a decade the market moved so fast, got so mature and saturated, and so many empires have been created, that is now cumbersome to obtain sustainable returns investing in risky early-stage companies. In fact, capital is abundant nowadays and funds have been raised everywhere, while there is no scarcity either in companies of every shape and size. For these reasons, investing has become incredibly competitive and it has never been harder to spot the needle in the haystack that would make you rich. Unfortunately, the toolbox investors currently have available is not robust enough to reduce their risk and help them managing uncertainty in a better way. This is where machine learning can come to aid.
Shopify today announced it is acquiring 6 River Systems, a startup focused on fulfillment automation for ecommerce and retail operations. The deal is valued at approximately $450 million -- 60% in cash and 40% in shares. At its Unite partner and developer conference in June, the company announced its Shopify Fulfillment Network, which uses machine learning to ensure timely deliveries and lower shipping costs. Shopify's fulfillment centers span California, Georgia, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The network, which is only available in early access, supports merchants that ship between 10 and 10,000 packages per day.
Ask a successful startup seed investor, "How do you do it?" Press harder and you will likely hear, "It takes years of apprenticeship and experience in pattern recognition." The myth of expert magic was challenged decades ago but it still persists. If you wanted to know whether you had cancer or not, you were better off using the algorithm that the researchers had created than you were asking the radiologist to study the X-ray. The simple algorithm had outperformed not merely the group of doctors; it had outperformed even the single best doctor.
Those who raise questions about Africa's preparedness for the fourth industrial revolution should look no further than the continent's young entrepreneurs, transcending tough resource constraints to lead a burgeoning AI startup ecosystem. Studies show that young people are more enthusiastic about technology. With the youngest and fastest-growing population on earth (Africa has a median age of 19 years compared to Europe's 41.8 years), there could be no better time for Africa than now. Young people in Africa are rising above infrastructure and resource constraints to create ingenious processes to adopt and apply the fourth industrial revolution technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to generate more value for their localities. Since we founded the Alliance for Africa's Intelligence (Alliance4ai) one year ago, we have interacted with more than 100 AI startups to learn about their work and support them with a platform where they exchange knowledge and opportunities with students, schools and other players in the ecosystem.
AI startup Adarga has sealed a £5 million Series A fundraising by Allectus Capital. But this news cloaks the point that it has been developing a source of steam since its founding in 2016. Building up what they say is a £30 million-plus sales pipeline through meaningful collaborations with several global industrial associates and slowly creating its management team. The profits will be used to maintain the increase of Adarga's data science and software engineering teams and will roll out globally. Adarga, which originates from the word for an old Moorish guard, is a London and Bristol-based startup.