AI is likely to be one of the most important technological advances of the near future. Whether or not you are super excited about its potential to make life easy, or terrified of its potential to remove jobs and take over the world, it seems that AI is here to stay.
Frank Chen, a partner at venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz, has recently released a video titled “The Promise of Artificial Intelligence.” The video looked at some recent trends in artificial intelligence and where he thinks these trends are going.
Starting with an assertion that AI will be as ubiquitous and important to the future of technology as informational databases were from the 70s onwards, he predicts that AI will soon be in pretty much every important piece of software.
His main takeaway is that AI will make things cheap. Predicting that everything from transport to content production will be done quicker, and cheaper by AI.
What is perhaps most exciting (or scary, depending on your point of view) about the video is the fact that many of the things mentioned are either already in use or in the final stages of their development.
Here is a breakdown of the main ways that Frank believes AI will be affecting our lives in the near future.
1. Transport will become much cheaper, and the knock on effects will be far and wide.
Self-driving vehicles are one of the highest profile new forms of AI. Everyone from Google to Elon Musk, to Jeju’s very own Electric Vehicle Expo have been predicting the rapid uptake of self-driving vehicles in the near future.
What many of us perhaps haven’t thought about is how as well as making things safer and more convenient, it will also make transport much cheaper for businesses.
Frank Chen’s example was that of a brewery. If the cost of transporting their beer from the brewery to the supermarket, bar, or pub suddenly become much cheaper, then the cost of the beer could become cheaper too.
And who can argue with cheaper beer!
2. AI will be able to see and understand the world, in some cases better than humans
Could you tell the difference between the dogs and muffins faster than an AI?
Generative Adversarial Networks are currently being used to develop AI that can accurately recognize images, essentially allowing them to see the world around them. In fact, according to the video, the best examples of this out there are already better at recognizing images than humans.
This type of technology is already being used by apps such as Pinterest which is able to recognize an item in a picture and show the viewer what the item is and where they are able to buy it.
Amazon, however, plans to take things much further and has tested shops that aim to get rid of queuesby simply having cameras that recognize when a customer has taken an item off a shelf and automatically billing them when they leave the shop.
Other examples shown in the video included tractors that use cameras to analyze the exact stage of growth that lettuce leaves are in and then automatically spray each individual plant with the perfect amount of fertilizer.
3. From sports reports to movie trailers, AI will make it cheap and easy to create all kinds of content.
Up to this point in the video, Frank Chen mainly spoke just about the AI analyzing things. However, in the next section, he pointed to examples of AI actually creating anything from written content, to music.
In fact, he points to the example during the last Olympics when the Washington Post and Toutiao (A Chinese news aggregator) were able to update their readers about events using AI created tweets and news stories.
As well as this, there are already many AI programs out there that create and sell music. While this music isn’t currently at the stage where it will be reaching number one on the charts (although the video above shows it may not be far off), it is predicted that it will be really useful when it comes to background noise for videos, conferences, adverts, etc.
4. AI will be able to predict the future
Proving that not even the good old-fashioned crystal ball is safe from new technology, Frank Chen then spoke about how AI will soon be able to predict the future.
In one of the more basic ways, he talked about how websites such as Buzzfeed are using AI to predict which articles will do well in which countries. This allows them to have a good idea about the articles they should translate for other versions of their website.
One of the most interesting ideas of the entire video was a new cancer diagnostic program that would be able to use blood samples to look at cell-free genomes and catch cancer as early as possible. As catching cancer early is key to curing it, this could potentially save a lot of lives.
5. In the fight against climate change, AI can help
Consuming less energy is a key struggle these days and Frank Chen pointed out how AI is being used to help.
When looking to save energy in their data center. Google’s Deep Mind took around 120 different variables that could affect this and managed to reduce energy consumption by around 25 percent in their data centers.
6. AI will be able to understand, improve, and even translate language
▲ Google is already good at coming up with simple replies to emails
Language understanding is another area where improvements are being made that you likely already have seen in your daily life. Anyone with Gmail has likely noticed the smart reply suggestions at the bottom of the email.
In fact, according to Frank Chen, Google reckons that 10% of all replies made on its service use this feature.
Other services currently in development include software that removes human bias and helps companies write job descriptions designed to attract the best candidate for the job, software that can summarize data from multiple documents, and even earpieces that can provide people with near simultaneous translations.
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