“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Esteemed Science and Science Fiction Writer
Unleashing AI (Artificial Intelligence)
What is AI?
AI stands for artificial intelligence. AI pertains to computers that have the ability to gain information and make decisions in order to achieve a goal. Some would say this means they have the ability to think like a human. But we shouldn't confuse the two - there are significant differences between what a human can do in comparison to a computer. However, those gaps are narrowing everyday. In fact we already have simplistic or narrow AI, today. The world chess champion first lost to a computer in 1997. So, computers have actually been able to outperform humans in some tasks for years. Apple’s SIRI is another popular example of AI, with which you may be familiar.
That said, the ability to learn and improve is the deal breaker for many modern programs and machines. When it comes to understanding natural speech, strategy, and complex data, we’re still number one on the playing field. That’s not to say machines won’t catch up, of course.
“From Siri and Cortana to cybersecurity, smart homes and even smart toys, artificial intelligence has increasingly found a place in a wide range of industries and applications.” ~ (CBS).
How Is AI Useful?
AI has the potential to be a billion dollar industry that can greatly serve humanity and revolutionize our future. Just consider what companies like Microsoft are doing with AI designed to serve our healthcare communities and save lives. “Microsoft Research machine-learning project, Hanover, aims to ingest all the hundreds of cancer research papers published minute to minute and ultimately help predict which drugs and which combinations are most effective to help doctors choose the best options for their patients” (Bloomberg).
And in one hospital, surgeons were reported to have operated alongside a robot, named STAR. “For the first time a supervised autonomous robot could perform soft-tissue surgery, stitching together a pig’s bowel during open surgery -- and doing so better than a human surgeon. 'This smart, intelligent technology will tell you how to conduct surgery optimally,' said Peter Kim, associate surgeon in chief at the hospital and project lead for STAR. 'This is not to replace surgeons tomorrow but provide collective experiences of how things should be done, to ensure all patients receive the best care,' (CNN).
Surprisingly Smart ‘Home’ Tech
If you think AI is interesting, then smart home technology will wow you. Today’s smart home technology enables users to connect a variety of household devices, so that they can be operated from a single source. For example, Amazon Echo (see video below) is a smart speaker that can listen to users and respond to various requests. You may use these devices to control others, such as for a light and security system, sprinklers, thermostat, t.v., garage door, vacuum, modern cooking and cleaning robots, etc. Sounds like a serious time saver, right? So why does such smart technology have to be restricted to the household? Well, it doesn’t. In fact, many professional environments are the next great place to consider applying smart, connected technologies. For example:
“Smart, connected products are emerging across all manufacturing sectors. In heavy machinery, Schindler’s PORT Technology reduces elevator wait times by as much as 50% by predicting elevator demand patterns, calculating the fastest time to destination, and assigning the appropriate elevator to move passengers quickly. In the energy sector, ABB’s smart grid technology enables utilities to analyze huge amounts of real-time data, allowing adjustments that can prevent blackouts before they occur. And Medtronic’s digital blood-glucose meter uses a sensor inserted under the patient’s skin to measure glucose levels in tissue fluid and connects wirelessly to a device that alerts patients and clinicians up to 30 minutes before a patient reaches a threshold blood-glucose level, enabling appropriate therapy adjustments,” (Harvard Business Review).
This is technology designed to save time and make life easier for people. Think about where you would benefit from a little digital assistance. It's up to you to decide whether to experiment with it at home, in the office, or both.
Where is Tech Taking Us?
We will likely continue to blur the lines between the physical and the digital world in the coming years. And combining AI with smart home technology will expedite the process. According to insights by Forbes' Jason DeMers, “It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. The next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps”. AI and smart tech may serve as the foundation for much of this in the future.