Enhancing our minds and bodies, from exoskeletons to ethical dilemmas, Amex and Burberry, Darktrace and Rare Carat … Exploring the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence

October 29, 2020

Working in the UAE recently, I was invited to meet some of the nation’s leaders to discuss the impact of technology on future trends. I arrived at UAE’s new Ministry of Possibilities in Dubai to be greeted by a robot, and was soon immersed inside a merged reality space, combining governance, a diversity of collaborative innovation projects, and tech education.

Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (how many nations have one of those?) had just launched BRAIN, the National AI Program, with an ambition for the UAE “to become world leaders in AI by 2031” and boost the local economy by $182 billion. A leap to the future, maybe, but a practical growth strategy too.

From Siri to self-driving cars, AI has the potential to transform our human capacity to embrace the power of technology, and solve the most complex problems, from climate change to eradicating disease, cybersecurity to neuro-controls. Whilst we image AI taking the humanoid form of Sophia, the human-like robot created by Hong-Kong based Hansen Robotics, AI comes in many forms, from Alphabet’s Deepmind to Tesla’s autonomous cars.

“The Age of AI” is a documentary series hosted by Robert Downey Jr. covering the ways artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks will change the world. Here are three of the episodes from the 8 part series:

AI and humanity

Can AI make music? Can it feel excitement and fear? Is it alive? Will.i.am and Mark Sagar push the limits of what a machine can do. How far is too far, and how much further can we go?

AI and wellbeing

The human body is not infallible, but through the wonders of AI research scientists are finding ways to address those imperfections. AI has the potential to heal, enhance and make up for the things our bodies lack.

AI and becoming superhuman

Through life changing accidents, and data minded through NASCAR, human beings are finding ways to rebuild one another so that we are better, faster, and stronger than ever before and all with the help of AI. Once nothing more than the stuff of comic books and TV shows, we truly have the technology to become modern superheroes

Today’s AI is more formally known as narrow (or weak) AI, meaning that it is designed to perform a narrow task, like playing chess or searching online. We see this embedded in our everyday lives, from anti-lock brakes in cars to fraud protection of payments, email spam filters and autocomplete forms. Future AI, however, seeks to take a more integrated form, known as general (or strong) AI, with the ability to do any task, and far more autonomy.

In healthcare, for example, AI can already interpret scans, sequence genomes, and synthesise new drugs within minutes, whilst also powering virtual nurses and robotics surgeons.

However, AI brings many ethical questions, risks associated with inbuilt biases, and has inconsistent regulation. Gender, race and ethnic biases can wrongly negatively influence the criminal justice system; fake news and misinformation can spread rapidly through bots and social media it threatens privacy and security; and it could displace many humans from jobs.

AI is the new rocket fuel for business innovation and growth. Here are some more examples:

  • American Express processes $1 trillion in transactions and has 110 million cards in operation, relying on AI-based algorithms to help detect fraud in near real time, therefore saving millions in losses. Its data analytics also enables apps to engage cardholders with personalised offers, and merchants to manage performance.
  • Burberry uses AI to combat counterfeit products and improve sales and customer relationships. Its loyalty programs go beyond rewards using that data to personalise the shopping experience online, and to augment the physical store experience using intelligent devices, from smartphones and biometric sensors.
  • Darktrace Enterprise Immune System slows attacks on computing systems by emulating the way humans fend off viruses. An AI-enabled platform embeds in a network, learns what be­­haviours are normal, and flags anomalies, automatically slowing or stopping compromised networks and devices.
  • Lemonade is reinventing insurance to be instant, easy, and transparent. It offers home insurance powered by AI and behavioural economics. By replacing brokers with bots and machine learning, Lemonade promises zero paperwork and instant policies and claims. As a B-Corp, it also has a Give Back scheme to non-profits.
  • Microsoft has put AI at the core of its service. Cortana is a virtual assistant, chatbots run Skype and answer queries, Office includes intelligent features such as weather, traffic and personal schedule intelligence, and business customers can use the Microsoft AI Platform to create their own intelligent tools.
  • Netflix’s incredible growth is largely due to its AI-driven personalisation, bringing together the viewing histories, searches and ratings of viewers to offer recommendations to you and others like you. It then uses this intelligence to develop new preference-matched content, such as House of Cards.
  • Rare Carat is disrupting the diamond market. Its platform uses blockchain technology to track provenance and verify certification, massively improving authenticity and ethics of diamond sourcing, and then AI-based analytics to compare the price of diamonds, connecting buyers with appropriate retailers.

“Everything invented in the past 150 years will be reinvented using AI within the next 15 years,” says Randy Dean of Launchpad AI, and maybe not surprisingly PwC estimates that it could add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

© Peter Fisk 2020

Extract from Business Recoded by Peter Fisk

Image: Unsplash