Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It quietly integrated itself in nearly every aspect of our lives. Still, this technology is in its infancy and we don’t entirely understand its full potential. We cringe at the idea of data being mined by governments, as reported in an amazing story on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Yet, we laugh at Super Bowl ads depicting a of a dog ordering food through Amazon’s Alexa. We worry about Big Brother, but excitedly lap up every Cortana or Siri update hoping it makes life just a little bit more interesting and easier.
The human obsession with faster and easier ways to do things makes AI one of the most valuable technologies today. In 2018, VCs funneled $10 billion into nearly 500 startups in the U.S. (according to CBInsights). This was almost double their investment in 2017. It’s not just VCs that are keen on AI. Big tech companies and governments are also eagerly tracking advancements in the technology.
With this much interest in AI, entrepreneurs have a real opportunity to thrive by unlocking its potential. Let’s take a look at the three key developments that will define AI for the next five to ten years.
China invests more than any other country, including the U.S., in AI. It is intent on winning the AI race. The Chinese government considers AI key to national security and, as such, is focused on facial recognition and AI chipset. Currently, the government is partnering with private companies to provide data and resources to develop a country-wide surveillance plan.
While the idea of the government having that much information on us makes many people in the Western world cringe, the fact is that data makes AI possible. Therein lies an opportunity for entrepreneurs. I am sure U.S. government is using AI and robotics technologies to explore and develop the next generation defense systems and surveillance technologies, as well as for space exploration. Boing, for example, just introduced a self-flying fighter jet. This would not be possible without massive AI technologies and data mining.
The FinTech and healthcare industries are heavily invested in AI. On the financial front, AI makes it easier for people to track and manage their wealth. It can help investors buy and sell stock from their phones with smart services that provide market analysis and options for each transaction. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In the next few years, AI will enable consumers to know their financial status on a real-time basis, allowing them to make decisions based on how the markets are faring.
In the healthcare world, AI is improving personal health and limiting the risk of human error. New phone applications leverage genomic mapping to make it easier for prescription drug users to understand how their medicine could interact with certain foods or other drugs. In the hospital, meanwhile, AI is improving care from the time of registration to the time of release. From providing a patient’s healthcare team with up-to-date health information on that patient to AI supporting a surgeon in the operating room, technology is improving outcomes. In the future, your doctor may only see you in person when you have a serious condition. AI will take care of all minor ailments.
AI is also very relevant in other cross-industry applications for AgTech, BuildTech and even EdTech. In BuildTech, for example, most high-rise buildings will soon be constructed using AI and robotic technology. These technologies will enable smart delivery and distribution systems to deliver material to the construction site on-demand, as well as smart cranes to construct the building layer by layer.
AI at the “Edge”
Edge Devices— a term encapsulating wearables, home and car devices, phones and sensor technology for IoT—are probably the most recognizable examples of AI at work for consumers. AI is already playing the role of personal assistant with Alexa, Siri and Cortana, but their capabilities are child’s play compared to what AI will enable in the next few years.
Imagine heading to work in the morning, but instead of you driving, your autonomous car chauffeurs you to Starbucks where your drink (decaf Americano with an extra shot), created by a robotic barista, is waiting. You might even take a shared car that leverages technology, such as wireless noise cancellation, to give you privacy. Once you arrive at work, your office will seamlessly guide you through the priorities of your work day. When you return home, your apartment will use sensor technology to know that you are near and have the temperature perfectly adjusted and a hot meal waiting for you.
These concepts are not far-fetched. My smart phone is getting smarter everyday. It now notifies me if I forgot to send a text or an email and recommends songs for me to listen to based on the time of day and my habits. This is just the beginning—Apple’s new A12 chip promises even more sophisticated personal assistance (such as watching you shoot hoops and assessing your performance).
In terms of the home, smart security alarm systems will soon be able to recognize who is entering the property and whether the person is allowed to enter. Simply imagine a new system with the AI technology that identifies and greets people who are supposed to be at your home, while calling for emergency services if there’s a break in. That will just be a standard home feature in the coming years.
Though AI technology is everywhere today, we are really just in its infancy. In the next five to ten years, AI will change the world as we know it. It’s rare to find a technology so ubiquitous and with so much long-term opportunity for advancement, but once it’s found, those that think big and move quick will stand a huge chance of success. This is why I encourage all entrepreneurs to think AI. Your business plan for any idea will not survive without it.
Date: March 5, 2019