3 global artificial intelligence trends rewiring the world

September 5, 20185 minute read

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Are you ready for your robot overlords? AI is reshaping industries across the world, as global artificial intelligence disrupts everything from agriculture to cybersecurity and healthcare. The tech has gone way beyond cutesy, elementary chatbots—now, AI is learning to speak new languages, teaching cars to make snap decisions to keep passengers safe, and even creating specialized jobs for human workers.

Here’s a look at three hot AI trends and how they’re changing the way business gets done all over the planet.

1. Posting a “help wanted” ad for robot minders

Everybody’s worried about robots taking over their jobs, especially modern-day Luddites, but the reality of the AI future may be more nuanced. Although automation is still on track to wipe out a lot of jobs down the road, The Verge reports the fallout may not end up as cataclysmic as early predictions claimed. According to recent research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 14 percent of jobs in OECD countries, like the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada, are at a high risk of being fully automated.

While you wait to see where the chips fall, one of the top artificial intelligence trends right now is actually creating new jobs that didn’t exist before. Case in point: Companies are hiring workers to babysit robots in manufacturing facilities. Chinese T-shirt manufacturer Tianyuan Garments Company recently inked a deal with the Arkansas government to create 400 new jobs in its new garment factory in the state. Although robots will do the lion’s share of the sewing, their human counterparts will be in charge of robot maintenance and operation.

This global artificial intelligence trend neatly ties back to IT shops, too, as forms of AI and human IT pros already work side by side. For example, today’s smart office printers can independently monitor threats and shut down if any are detected, rebooting and self-healing if necessary. They can then send their human colleagues a helpful heads up that something shady may be afoot, so the flesh-and-blood IT pros can spring into action. Other forms of artificial intelligence might be coming to an IT team near you before long, lending a hand with duties like maintaining IT security or analyzing patterns in help-desk tickets.

2. Making voice-activated AI your new BFF

Unless you live under a rock with no access to TV or the internet (scary thought), you’ve seen those glossy advertisements for virtual assistants that promise to streamline your life and give you a little time back in your busy day. Virtual helpers, like Alexa and Siri, are everywhere, and IoT devices are rapidly integrating with them to turn dreams of a smart world into reality. This form of global artificial intelligence has arrived with a bang: Amazon recently announced it will soon ship its Alexa-powered speakers to about 80 countries.

AI wants to tag along and help out everywhere you—and your employees—go, and the business applications are endless. Frazzled cubicle warriors will soon find virtual assistants helpful in adjusting their hectic work schedule on the fly and firing up the coffee maker when another late night is looming. But as an interesting piece in The Atlantic recently illuminated, voice-activated AI could also be a real game changer for people with disabilities who’ve found the technology revolution inaccessible to date. Disabled folks are now using voice commands to keep in touch with family or look up information with the same speed and convenience people without disabilities have enjoyed for years.

This all sounds great, but there is a catch: Alexa only speaks English, German, and Japanese. If you happen to speak another language, you’re out of luck for the time being. Google Home is only slightly more polyglot, adding French to the mix. Meanwhile, Apple’s HomePod is English-only, though it has plans to go global. Huge markets—especially in the Spanish and Mandarin-speaking world—are incredibly underserved today, so you can expect one of the hottest artificial intelligence trends this year will involve a rapid advancement in virtual assistants for non-English speakers.

3. Shifting AI to the edge

You might think AI is intrinsically linked to the cloud, but now, AI is shifting to edge devices, like wearables, smartphones, and cars. This transition empowers devices and sensors to process information locally and respond rapidly to developing situations, instead of checking in with a central cloud or server for instructions. No longer tethered to the cloud, AI will soon start taking a more active role on site.

This could be a major boon when it comes to ensuring the safety of self-driving cars, for example, equipping them with the decision-making capabilities they need to avoid a tragic accident. But it could be applied in a variety of other ways—for example, by allowing your personal AI assistant to recognize your accent or identify specific faces. This type of AI could help a baby monitor keep your little one safe or equip an in-home smart camera to recognize that a particular person has entered an area, taking action where appropriate if there’s a safety or security concern.

In short, AI is here to stay. In fact, it’s becoming a fundamental, core technology that will give rise to incredible business innovation both in the near future and far off into the horizon. Beyond the first wave of machine learning, the world is quickly advancing toward an AI-enabled future that offers virtual assistants to lighten workloads in any language, self-driving cars that stay alert to changing road conditions, AI that helps IT defend office networks from hackers, and so much more. Stay tuned, because these global artificial intelligence trends are just getting started.

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