This week is artificial intelligence (AI) week, and all week we’ll be seeing announcement after announcement from artificial intelligence vendors about improved performance and capability in AI technology. More important to me is how this will change our lives. I spent some time last week talking to IBM about how its partnership with NVIDIA and its advancements with Watson and OpenPOWER will be changing the world around us. We spoke about a number of artificial intelligence trends and several stood out for me.
Every year, financial institutions write of billions in losses due to credit card fraud, and a great deal of focus has been placed on stopping this steady drip, drip, drip of illegal cost. Currently, systems are advanced enough to do four fraud checks at the time of the transaction, but they simply aren’t enough to stop the flood of people cloning, stealing and skimming credit cards to steal money.
According to these institutions, the massive increase in performance that IBM and NVIDIA are promising will allow them to raise significantly the number of fraud checks they do at transaction and, even more effectively, select dynamically the checks they are doing to better address each individual situation. This will make it nearly impossible for people and criminal organizations to game the system and effectively eliminate most of the credit card fraud going on. This dynamic capability will allow these AI systems to adapt in real time to new threats and mitigate them on the fly. In one big step, this could, for all practical purposes, make credit card fraud a thing of the past.
We know that perimeter protection in electronic security is no longer effective, but we often don’t talk about the fact that it generally doesn’t work for physical security either. People can jump fences, tailgate others with security cards, clone security cards, steal security cards and use them to gain access to areas they aren’t allowed in. And legitimate employees steal stuff. With AI and deep learning, security systems can more effectively be used to catch people who are where they shouldn’t be in real time, through facial recognition. By being able to scan faces, people who shouldn’t have the cards and who wander into areas that they aren’t authorized to enter can be immediately flagged, and access to systems and equipment can be electronically and physically denied with security guards, electronic locks, ties into system security and even robots. This can allow the physical resources to be more effectively used to not only curtail theft but to potentially eliminate it and to automate things like calls for help, both for the breach and to get first responders to the location of an attack or even natural disaster or accident more quickly.
Security guards make mistakes. Increasingly, these AI-guided, deep learning facial recognition systems will not.
Health care is one of the areas where AI and deep learning have been most targeted. The ability to quickly see a pattern in symptoms and winnow down the number of possible causes was one of the initial focuses of IBM Watson, and its performance has been impressive. However, training has been daunting. The announced advancements will massively reduce the resources needed to train a Watson system and that should help spread its availability to patients all over the world.
One of the problems with personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri is that they are relatively stupid and, as a result, fall far short of their promise. These new deep learning systems, when placed behind a personal assistant, will make them smarter, not only with regard to parsing and responding to questions but in anticipating the needs of users and seeming increasingly alive, making them more effective companions. This could address a wide range of needs, from helping keep users from getting depressed, to calling for help more often and more effectively when they sense a user’s need, to becoming a more effective advertising and sales tool for the firms deploying them.
These are just a few examples of how these higher performing deep learning and AI systems backed by artificial intelligence vendors IBM and NVIDIA will change the world around us. I didn’t touch on how they’ll be used to improve things like discovery for the legal profession, potentially turning small firms into powerhouses, as these services are offered as a cloud service, to vastly accelerating self-driving cars, trucks, and automated drones to change transportation and delivery forever, or how they will change entertainment in ways that will make the old Star Trek Holodeck look limited by comparison. We are rapidly moving into an amazing new future, a time when instead of having to learn how to work the systems around us, these systems will learn how to work better with us, and where instead of reacting to a crisis or problem, these systems anticipate and mitigate without human intervention.
Thanks to firms like IBM and NVIDIA, prepare for a world we aren’t even remotely ready for yet.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+