Machine Learning Becomes Legit, but Not Mainstream in 2017

ML-Sinequa-Predictions-2017

There has been a lot of hype around machine learning lately. Over the past decades, we’ve heard about various concepts around machine intelligence that in most cases didn’t get anywhere. But more and more frequently, organizations are learning how to bring together all the ingredients needed to leverage machine learning, and there is a simple reason for that: according to Moore’s law, the performance of microprocessors has increased since 1980 be a factor of more than 16 million! A program that ran on a 1980 computer for more than half a year today delivers its results in one second!

That is why I think Machine Learning will be the story for 2017. We’ll see it move from a mystical, over-hyped holy grail, to more real-world, successful applications. Those who dismiss it as hocus-pocus will finally understand it’s real; those who distrust it will come to see its potential; and companies that apply ML to appropriate use cases will achieve real business benefit without the high cost of entry that was common in years past. In 2017 it will be clear that it has a credible place in the business toolkit.

The four necessary enablers for machine learning – huge parallel processing resources, cheap storage, large and appropriate data sets, and accessible machine learning algorithms – are all now mainstream. Most large organizations have readily-available access to all these components (appropriate data sets are potentially the only open question, as they are always business- and use-case-specific), which makes machine learning a real possibility to reduce risk, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, create new business models, identify patterns, and optimize complex systems.

One area where machine learning is growing rapidly and already showing success is for cognitive search and analytics applications. It won’t take over core algorithms anytime soon, but ML is already supplementing and enhancing search results based on user actions and smart analysis of content.

I don’t foresee machine learning achieving “mainstream” status in 2017, but it will within the next few years because the technology is advancing exponentially, quickly enabling its use in broader contexts.

For more on my complete prediction on machine learning, check out this article in Virtual Strategy Magazine.

 

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Artificial Intelligence in 2017: Expands Capabilities, but Impacts the Workforce

Artificial-Intelligence-SinequaThe beginning of the new year is a good time to reflect on the events of 2016 and on their forebodings for the coming year and beyond.There has no doubt been a great deal of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) this year. However, it’s difficult to sort through what’s hype and what’s not to determine where these technologies will actually take us in 2017. While we know the trend will continue in some form, what will be new or different next year? Here are some of my predictions: 

Artificial Intelligence is taking the industry by storm, and not just in “Westworld.” We’re entering a new phase of AI thanks to advances in computing power and volume of data. This has opened the door to solve computational problems on a scale that no human mind could approach – even in a lifetime. The result is that computers are now able to provide responses that aren’t dictated by a collection of “if A, then B” rules, offering results that can only be explained by saying that the computer “understands.” The benefit is that complex and time-consuming cognitive processes can now be automated, and we can do things at scale that were previously impossible because unlike humans, computers are not overwhelmed by volume.

We’re definitely headed in the direction of workforce displacement and I believe it’s going to happen quickly, as there are huge economic incentives to increase efficiency and to automate manual tasks. This will happen faster than we expect because we think linearly, while technology is advancing exponentially. We struggle with that perspective because it quickly outpaces what we can readily grasp, whether that be in size or speed, or both. This will bring additional challenges because the disruption will occur across the occupational spectrum (unlike the industrial revolution, which primarily impacted “low-skill” jobs). I don’t see any particular sector being hit by this tidal wave in 2017, but AI is a disruptor like we’ve never seen before and it will be here soon whether we are ready for it or not.

However, with this transformation, tasks that have been impractical because of the time/labor involved now become feasible, which means we’ll be able to do things we haven’t been able to do before. It will also free us from many mundane and repetitive tasks, enabling people to focus on new or more valuable activities. This will increase efficiency in the workplace as well as consistency, which will improve quality and safety. So while the workforce will look very different from how it looks today – certainly in 10 years and probably in five, AI and ML are going to greatly extend and expand our capabilities in ways that, for now, we can only imagine.

What are your predictions for 2017 and beyond? For a full list of my predictions on AI other topics such as machine learning and big data, check out my post in VMblog.

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