Artificial intelligence. For most the term still conjures up far-flung sci-fi fantasies involving Machiavellian cyborgs and futuristic armies of rambunctious robots – a ‘machine vs. mankind’ scenario. The perception of AI and what it may or may not achieve in the future remains relatively unchanged, but the fact remains that it is here now – and is already being used by businesses to streamline processes and take on specific roles previously only occupied by humans. In this article we explore and explain the implications of AI for businesses – and share how AI learning could determine your digital projects of the future.

What is artificial intelligence?

 

The term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ refers to the development of technologies that can effectively ‘take over’ from people – employing techniques and evolving capabilities that would normally need human intelligence to be successful. The AI umbrella is vast and actually covers a huge variety of technologies – including video games, fraud detection, online customer support and driverless vehicles.

 

How is artificial intelligence already changing the way businesses communicate with customers?

 

Whilst many think of AI solely as a method of developing highly technical, futuristic humanoid bots (and in part it is – more on that below), the algorithms and technology behind these highly advanced developments are already infiltrating and enhancing everyday life. Think of Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Home – all fantastic examples of how AI technology can make life easier, streamline processes and increase safety and efficiency – both in personal and professional capacities. Ever used a live chat facility on a website to help you to find the answer to something, or resolve a query? You may have been conversing with a bot powered by AI technology.

Google now estimates that 1 in 5 searches are conducted via a voice query facility already – with the figure set to rise in 2018. This has massive implications for SEO and website design and development, as search engines shift to accommodate AI-driven developments such as voice search.

The future prospects of AI are vast and lucrative – with the industry forecast to be worth a whopping $3.1 trillion by 2025. Expert opinion is still divided, however, on whether AI really is a ‘good thing’ both from a personal and professional perspective. Stephen Hawking recently expressed his view that AI ‘could spell the end for the human race’ – and other technology heavyweights including Elon Musk have echoed a similar sentiment. Like it or not, AI is continually advancing, thanks to huge funding from private sector companies and government agencies. Perhaps the latest and most striking example of this is humanoid Sophia. Attractive, charming, highly intelligent – she is the world’s most expressive and arguably most advanced humanoid robot. Developers Hanson Robotics have spent an inordinate amount of time and money creating Sophia – but whilst they have made quantum leaps in the field they felt a lack of integration and cohesion was holding the industry as a whole back. They have partnered up with SingularityNET, an organisation looking to open up the industry and fulfil increasing demand for integration and the sharing and learning of new technologies to move things forward faster. Alongside Hanson, SingularityNET hopes that other AI developers can learn extensively from Sophia, in turn introducing many new technologies into an already rapidly growing market that is currently stunted by lack of communication.

 

So what does this mean for businesses? Well, AI isn’t going to go away – and it isn’t something that is so far in the future that we don’t yet need to contemplate it commercially. With the advancement of new technologies accelerated by collaborations such as the one between SingularityNET and Hanson Robotics it’s set to become part of our lives in a more holistic and extensive manner over the next few years. How and why this affects your company largely depends on your sector – but for many in industries such as manufacturing, IT and data analysis and processing, AI technology could increasingly offer a viable replacement for human talent, bringing costs down and dramatically increasing efficiency.