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) …
Historically, buying organizations have mandated that vendors comply with specific supply chain rules in order to coordinate processes, avoid supply chain failures and maintain consistency in order fulfillment and delivery timelines. Some of these compliance rules required vendors to invest in automation that would streamline the supply chain process, increase operational flexibility, enhance collaboration and ensure scalability. Without automation, there's an increased risk of operational disruption, which could lead to diminished profit margins. Having spent the past 20 years as the co-founder of DiCentral, a leading provider of technology solutions that help businesses streamline and improve the productivity of their supply chains, I've seen just how complex those supply chains have become over the past decade due to the rapid rate of increase in supply-chain globalization. Most companies have done away with vertically integrated supply chains, which typically require companies to take in raw material and have several cycles of manufacturing to create a finished product.
The fear of robots coming for your job is one of the many challenges confronting 21st-century workers, but the machines aren't ready to take on every industry just yet. Bridgewater Associates, the massive hedge fund founded by legendary investor Ray Dalio, just released a report on the changing relationship between labour and capital in the US. One of the big factors the Bridgewater authors highlighted was the ongoing rise in automation across industries, which they noted could be a support for corporate profits in the years to come as more efficient robots and software potentially replace slower and error-prone human labour. Bridgewater cited a 2016 report from consulting firm McKinsey & Company that looked at which industries in the US were most susceptible to being automated. The McKinsey report used data from the Department of Labour to estimate how much time workers in various industry sectors spent doing different types of tasks, and which of those tasks could, theoretically, be automated using present technology.
It's been two years since the last time I judged the Automate Startup Competition. More than any other trade show contest, this event has been an oracle of future success. In following up with the last vintage of participants, all of the previous entrees are still operating and many are completing multi-million dollar financing rounds. As an indication of the importance of the venue, and quite possibly the growth of the industry, The Robot Report announced last week that 2017 finalist, Kinema Systems was acquired by SoftBank's Boston Dynamics. Traditionally, autonomous machines at the ProMat Show have been relegated to a subsection of the exhibit floor under the Automate brand.
We are now living in a digital economy. Organizations all over the globe are turning their much of their focus away from producing physical assets, and towards designing and developing digital products and services that either complement or completely replace their physical predecessors. Digital transformation initiatives are at the very top of business agendas across all industries, resulting in big changes and big demands being placed on enterprise IT operations. For many years, high demands have been placed on IT operations teams – and DevOps in particular – to become more agile and proactive so that their businesses can quickly embrace new technologies and practices in order to remain competitive. However, to meet these demands, IT operations has faced the challenge of keeping costs down on the one hand, while dealing with the increasing complexity of operations on the other.
You've no doubt heard the term being bandied around – but what is it, and what can it do for your organization? Let's begin with a definition from Gartner, the research firm which coined the term a couple of years ago, and has since been responsible for popularizing both the phrase and the concept. "AIOps platforms combine big data and machine learning functionality to support all primary IT operations functions through the scalable ingestion and analysis of the ever-increasing volume, variety and velocity of data generated by IT. The platform enables the concurrent use of multiple data sources, data collection methods, and analytical and presentation technologies." Translation: AIOps is essentially an umbrella term to describe the use of machine learning and big data analytics technologies to automate the identification and subsequent resolution of common IT issues.
Here's the paradox: it takes people to automate. Enterprises are moving aggressively to automate as many of their processes as possible, through artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. Automation opens up new types of career opportunities, from programming to training. But it can't simply be inserted into operations without forethought and consideration of the wider impact. That's the word coming out of a survey of 4,000 employees released by Automation Anywhere.
Industrial automation is already streamlining the manufacturing process, but first those machines must be painstakingly trained by skilled engineers. Industrial robotics giant Fanuc wants to make robots easier to train, therefore making automation more accessible to a wider range of industries, including pharmaceuticals. The company announced a new artificial intelligence-based tool at TechCrunch's Robotics AI Sessions event today that teaches robots how to pick the right objects out of a bin with simple annotations and sensor technology, reducing the training process by hours. Bin-picking is exactly what it sounds like: a robot arm is trained to pick items out of bins and used for tedious, time-consuming tasks like sorting bulk orders of parts. Images of example parts are taken with a camera for the robot to match with vision sensors.
Technology is a transformative force, and there is currently no technology more transformative than AI. Because AI encompasses so many different fields -- from robotics to deep learning to self-driving cars -- it can be hard to quantify the exact impact it has had on the economy and on individual industries. Whether you're heavily involved within the industry or an outside observer, by examining the different use cases and successes (or failures) that AI has been a part of, you can gain a better understanding of how to implement AI within your own organization, and how to generate the most value from it. Given the lucrative opportunities available, it is unsurprising that both established players in the health care industry (i.e., hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, etc.) and startups are looking to utilize AI to maximize their impact. A 2018 report revealed that health care-focused AI startups alone have raised $4.3 billion since 2013, more than startups in any other industry.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of dockworkers, residents and business owners are expected to pack the Board of Harbor Commissioners hearing Tuesday morning in an attempt to block a permit for infrastructure improvements at one Port of Los Angeles terminal that they fear would pave the way for the loss of high-paying jobs and the economic decline of surrounding communities. This small project -- about $1.5 million worth of electric charging stations, poles for Wi-Fi antenna and the like -- would be a precursor to a big change in San Pedro and harbor communities. APM Terminals and Danish shipping giant Maersk intend to automate operations over the next several years, potentially slashing the number of dockworkers in the future. These are middle-class jobs that can often pay workers without a college degree more than $100,000 a year. But, really, this fight goes far beyond APM Terminals.
CVS became one of the first national retailers to experiment with self-checkout as a primary means of handling payment and bagging in stores. But the heavily guided process was error-prone and frustrating. By 2015, the drugstore retreated from the initiative, but it still offers a tweaked version of the stations in many stores. Costco had also removed self-checkout from its stores, although it began experimenting with it again in 2017. Nowadays, retailers ranging from major supermarkets to The Home Depot continue to offer self-checkouts, but there is often a store staffer nearby to assist with the inevitable glitch -- a product that won't scan, a coupon that won't activate, an exhortation to bag an item that has already been bagged.