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) …
Mention McDonald's to someone today, and they're more likely to think about Big Mac than Big Data. But that could soon change: The fast-food giant has embraced machine learning, in a fittingly super-sized way. McDonald's is set to announce that it has reached an agreement to acquire Dynamic Yield, a startup based in Tel Aviv that provides retailers with algorithmically driven "decision logic" technology. When you add an item to an online shopping cart, it's the tech that nudges you about what other customers bought as well. Dynamic Yield reportedly had been recently valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars; people familiar with the details of the McDonald's offer put it at over $300 million.
Even in the middle of the day, the 50-mile trip from San Francisco to San Jose is a pain. Like a toddler, Bay Area driving toggles between slumber (rush-hour slogs) and frenzy (passing-happy speeding). It's enough to make one eager for the day when robots rule the roads. And it's more than enough to make me envy Evan Livingston, who doesn't have to show up in person this meeting, held in a Lincoln MKZ sedan roaming downtown San Jose. No, Livingston is sitting comfortably in his office in Portland, Oregon, when he appears on the screens inside the car and announces he'll be our teleoperator this afternoon.
The travel market is currently undergoing a radical transformation. We've seen the growth of online travel agents whetting the appetite for bespoke holidays, with more options than you could ever explore. On the accommodation front, we can choose to stay in a hotel, a hostel, or experience life in someone's else's shoes via apps like Airbnb or CouchSurfing. Each booking implies an element of personalisation, and the explosion of'mix-and-match' services has only amplified the importance of catering for holidaymakers on a one-to-one level. A personalised, considered and tactical strategy for converting each purchase would be the natural reaction to what we're seeing, if only the market could deliver it.
This includes revolutionary tactics such as data patterns and trend spotting. In many cases, there is a lack of collaboration between a company's IT department that will analyse data, and those with real business insight who want to use it. It's important that companies look for new forms of data with which to create actionable results. This is a shift that we are already seeing and is going to continue throughout the year as businesses maintain their data education and practise. The next step in data collection is the use of video as a way of gathering information and analysing the state of the business via information from the physical world, and where in the workplace improvements can be made.
The excitement around any new technology comes with a side order of fears about how that system or service will affect people. In key areas like cloud computing and social media, it often feels as if the regulators are having to play catch-up with the tech firms that create these innovations and the businesses that exploit them. Yet it is in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) that these fears are perhaps greater than anywhere else. Rather than just being a technology that people will themselves use, some experts believe AI could instead help to replace human decision-making at work and at home. So, how can businesses work to reduce fears and create AI systems that exploit big data ethically?
If you didn't comb through the 15 press releases issued by Oracle at their co-located Modern Business Experience (MBX) and Modern Customer Experience (MCX) events, you're forgiven. Digging further, the underlying theme is really the problem/opportunity of data. Both topics spark debates on data privacy, the enormous need for integrated data platforms, and how AI can have real business impact. Brian Sommer and I got into those issues – and more – in our Oracle MBX and CX event review podcast. After Brian describes Oracle MBX as "crawling with chatbots," we aired out pet peeves grievances on customer experience hype.
Volvo has had it up to här with drivers. The Swedish carmaker has spent decades building a reputation based on safety (and low-key luxury), but humanity's taste for speeding, distraction, and impaired driving remains a threat no airbag, semi-autonomous system or moose-detection system can neutralize. So this week, Volvo announced a raft of potentially controversial initiatives that will help deliver on its Vision 2020 goal--no more deaths or serious injuries in its new cars--by making its customers behave. After announcing a few weeks ago that it will limit the top speed of all its new cars to 112 mph, Volvo will roll out efforts to eliminate impaired driving, keep young drivers in check, and help its competitors benefit from its years of safety research. Improving driver behavior hinges on knowing how the driver is behaving, so Volvo--at an event also marking 60 years since it introduced the three-point safety belt--will start putting inward-facing cameras in all its cars.
The increased sophistication of fintech poses many policy concerns, especially when harnessing A.I. in asset management. Currently, there is a lack of international regulatory standards for A.I. and machine learning in asset management. Since A.I. is already being used by investment managers to improve operational structure, investment strategy, and trading efficiency, the need to address this policy gap is urgent. On March 25, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world's largest professional organization devoted to engineering, is launching Ethically Aligned Design (EAD1e), a set of guidelines for the design and use of intelligent systems. The initiative is a step in the right direction because it begins to provide the ethical foundations for designing transparent and impartial systems--but more must be done.
In the food industry, it seems, the robot revolution is well underway, with machines mastering skilled tasks that have always been performed by people. In Boston, robots have replaced chefs and are creating complex bowls of food for customers. In Prague, machines are displacing bartenders and servers using an app. Robots are even making the perfect loaf of bread these days, taking charge of an art that has remained in human hands for thousands of years. Now comes Briggo, a company that has created a fully automated, robotic brewing machine that can push out 100 cups of coffee in a single hour -- equaling the output of three to four baristas, according to the company.