It is very hard to ignore the rise and rise of AI (artificial intelligence) but is 2018 likely to be the year that AI becomes truly mainstream? Whether you start your day talking to Siri, Alexa or Google or you work in a factory surrounded by robots, the fact is AI is all around us and the tech is becoming increasingly commonplace in modern life.
But the test of whether something is mainstream or not is when it becomes affordable and 2017 heralded the point that AI became available to and used by the masses, which would suggest it has ‘arrived’ and is here to stay.
As a concept AI is not new. Think back to 1997 and Garry Kasparov was playing chess against IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ a learning computer with the ability to think in human terms. Back then though the processing power and the infrastructure required for AI was huge. Today, an Echo Dot or Google Home system will sit in the palm of your hand and be arguably more useful on a day-today basis than a chess opponent.
AI is also no longer the preserve of big business although it is the world of commerce that has made AI pay dividends to date. Anyone watching some of the ‘Inside the Factory’ TV series over the turn of the year will have seen the likes of McVities putting AI to full use in the production and distribution of millions of our favourite biscuits. Walk through Chichester City Centre and the foot flow monitors that track the health of our high street take a range of data and combine it to create true trends and patterns e.g. using multiple years of data to calculate what a ‘typical’ second Tuesday in January looks like rather than just comparing year-on-year or by date. The computers running them literally learn!
Over the last few years there has been much talk of self-driving cars, drone deliveries and more human like robotics and we are starting to see elements of this tech creeping into things like our cars and IT. But as the tech reaches maturity, perhaps 2018 will be the year in which Artificial Intelligence moves from concept to reality.