As we move out of the 2010s, technology is advancing at an ever increasing rate. These developments are prompting us to not only re-adjust our own, internal working environments, but also signal the need for industries as a whole to develop, requiring new and advanced roles and companies to monitor and support modern advancements. One of the most prominent and arguably important of these developments is Artificial Intelligence. 

What is AI?

AI covers a range of advanced technologies, including Amazon’s voice recognition remote, Alexa, autonomous weapons and Google’s search algorithms. The current in-use level of AI is known as narrow AI or weak AI due to its intended role in performing a ‘narrow’ or specific task, such as answering a series of recognisable questions, facial recognition or driving a car. However, looking to the future, developers are working to expand the function and capabilities of this technology to create general AI, AGI or strong AI. This development would aim to overcome the confines of a single function and while narrow AI can outperform human on its intended function, AGI would surpass human ability at nearly every cognitive task.

What does this mean for the near future in our industries? 

Over the next few years, the intention to keep the effects of AI beneficial for society as a whole motivates a new and progressive form of research in many areas, from economics, law, IT and technical topics such as verification, validity, security and control. The importance of these newly necessary industrial roles should not be undermined as we hand over significant responsibility through allowing these technologies to control inherently risky apparatus such as cars, airplanes, peacemakers and power grids. 

Additionally, the challenge to prevent a disastrous arms race in lethal autonomous weapons not only increases the importance of ethical, legal and governmental understanding of AI but also creates roles requiring cross-industry understanding and utilisation. Moreover, while AI technology may go on to be the greatest technological advancement of all time and aid crises such as war, disease and poverty, the negative concerns surrounding AI cannot be overlooked. These long-existing but imminently relevant questions signal a heightened importance for ethical and democratic thinking across a considerable number of different industries.  

 

What else is driving the relevance of AI in 2019? 

Beyond the potential for AI to expand the capabilities of companies and individuals, the heightened relevance of AI also sits in the circulating of information across consumers from well known scientists and public figures such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. The increased relevance of scientific technology in pop-culture creates an obligation for industrial understanding of current issues and on the other hand, an opportunity to engage with the consumer.

What technological developments are confirmed for 2019? 

In understanding the timeline for AGI, there remains finite certainty in knowing how long it will take until machines are able to comfortably and consistently surpass general human intelligence, or whether it will at all. However, due to recent breakthroughs, AI milestones that were predicted just five years ago to be decades away have now been achieved. Many experts have therefore changed their predictions about the forthcoming arrival of more complex forms of AI. In fact, at the 2015 Puerto Rico Conference, researchers guessed that it would likely happen before 2060. It is therefore feasible that 2019 will provide a host of crucial and compelling developments. 

In terms of narrow AI, new technology is arriving all the time. According to Forbes in summer 2018, the U.S. is currently using a machine learning to predict when its vehicles will need repair, Google is developing AI to predict patients’ death and a research group is now aiming to use AI to predict stock performance. In short, new technologies mean that change, in many forms, is imminent. A vast advancement in consumer-ready AI in 2019 is therefore expected; an advancement that we must prepare for across industries.