Artificial intelligence is a constantly expanding field with more and more investment and screen time given to it every year. Movies such as Her, Ex Machina and Passengers have ignited the public’s fascination with AI but how much is fiction and how much is reality?
Realistically speaking, we are decades away from personal robot butlers, but with the advent of personal digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, and the proliferation of web-connected devices (IoT) the need for physical robotic assistants has lessened. That’s not to say that AI hasn’t achieved a stronger foothold in the physical world, however. AI is more common than ever from very visible implementations such as autonomous vehicles to those that lay further behind the scenes.
Interest and research in autonomous vehicles has exploded over the past few years as big tech players such as Google, Uber and Tesla kicked off the race to release the first autonomous cars to market. Traditional car manufacturers soon followed, but generally with less enthusiasm than the early adopters. Currently most of the big players have achieved ‘Level 2’ automation, meaning the process of both steering and acceleration/deceleration can be automated, but ‘true’ level 3, 4 and 5 automated driving has not made it to market yet, with Tesla aiming to be the first to market with a predicted launch year of 2019. Tesla’s predictions haven’t always been the most reliable, however, with Nissan and Toyota’s proposed launches in 2020 being the more realistic first launch of fully autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles are one of the most visible implementations of AI but much of the research into AI has been involved with the background systems integrated into the technology we use every day. Ocado have made headlines recently with their new highly automated warehouses packed with swarms of purpose-built robots. Developed in partnership with Northumberland-based robotics firm Tharsus, Ocado’s robots can work together to pick a typical 50-item order in a few minutes. This system ties into Ocado’s whole Machine Learning system, allowing them to predict demand, detect fraud and optimize the thousands of delivery routes Ocado makes every day.
Even further in the background is the use of AI in the adverts we see every day. Big Data has changed the advertising world, with more adverts than ever tailored to each individual viewer. Much of these processes are automated, with huge A/B testing campaigns being fielded to discover the perfect method of convincing you to buy a product and massive datasets being used to guess which product you are most likely to buy. There has been much talk of Facebook listening in to conversations to tailor adverts to users, but a simpler answer to spookily accurate adverts is that Big Data has just become that good.
Navigation softwares have presented a less nefarious use case of Big Data and AI, with apps such as Waze learning the usual driving routes of millions of drivers and rerouting commuters to make maximal use of road space, reduce congestion and tangentially reducing pollution through reduced fuel usage. This data has, in turn, been used to inform local governments and councils on how the roads are used and where best to build new carriageways.
Artificial Intelligence has pervaded large swathes of the technologies we use every day and its use is only set to increase in the coming years. The number of roles in AI development and machine learning is quickly expanding year on year and the market is becoming increasingly tight as more companies spring up. Next week we will be discussing the upcoming uses of AI in society, the challenges that may come with it and the solutions that we will have to consider in the coming years.
Jackson Hogg is a Newcastle based recruitment company specialising in technology, engineering and manufacturing. Jackson Hogg is made up of specialists from a wide range of industries with special focuses on machine learning, robotics and power electronics, along with other engineering disciplines. If you are a candidate with experience in machine learning, robotics or electronics, or a company looking to identify top talent please contact Margaret Celgarz by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07375287739.