Looking back at 2017, it is clear that AI arrived. One development that I found particularly intriguing was when a machine, Libratus, beat four of the world’s top poker players in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Considering the nuances of the game of poker in which the machine has to learn how to account for things like bluffing, it is an amazing feat of technology that Libratus could be the success that it was so quickly. The implications of Libratus for things like stock trading are significant. On a more personal level, 2017 saw the advent of AI radiologists at Stanford offering diagnoses gleaned from “studying” multitudes of chest x-rays. This algorithm, CheXNet, is able to diagnose pneumonia better than radiologists at the top of their field. It is a wonderful thing to see AI being embraced increasingly by the medical community, which is often slower to accept change, as AI stands to reduce medical errors significantly, prolonging and saving more lives as a result.
Looking ahead at 2018, this will be the year in which AI becomes even more pervasive. Based on the examples above and many others that unfolded last year, it is evident that the groundwork has been laid for AI to become more ingrained in every facet of our lives, from healthcare to gameplay to work. Part of what’s ahead this year will be the use of AI to deliver more contextual information. One way in which this will come about is via the increased use of voice assistants, as AI helpers like Alexa will move with you from your home to your office. Voice activated business interfaces is just the beginning of seeing conversational modalities interoperate, become smarter, powered by natural language processing, instant transcription, and continuous machine learning. I call this “apps that learn.”ᵀᴹ Business users will need to switch context less and will have their applications surface to them what matters most via these conversational interfaces, streamlining and improving work environments yet further.
As AI continues to grow, expand, and take over, it will be exciting to watch which industries adapt to it most readily. It will also be important to watch how cybersecurity responds to this growth, with new frontiers to protect. Being mindful of our own ethics will matter a lot, too. For example, this report in November 2017 from AI Now “takes an unblinking look at a tech industry racing to reshape society along AI lines without any guarantee of reliable and fair results.” As exciting as the path ahead is for the ongoing ingraining of AI into every facet of our lives, it won’t be uncomplicated, and new ground will need to be forged with regard to holding those who make and use it accountable.