Artificial Intelligence (AI) has flown beneath the radar for the first six decades of its development, and just recently it's exploded into public consciousness, according to Neil Jacobstein.
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The AI & Robotics co-chair at Singularity University and former CEO of Teknowledge Corporation believes the combination of humans, AI, and good business processes is disrupting the very ground we stand on in financial technology (Fintech) and beyond as we already use machine learning tools to augment the power of the human brain.
At Singularity University's Exponential Finance conference today, Jacobstein pointed to examples like Google's AlphaGo wiping the floor with world champion Lee Sedol, and how quickly the world shifted from a state of shock to seizing the scientific opportunity. Soon after seeing its human champion so thoroughly beaten by a machine, South Korea announced a plan to spend $840 million by 2020 to boost AI research and development (R&D), and to create a research institute where six of the country's highest profile tech companies—Samsung, LG, SK Telecom SKT, KT, Naver, and Hyundai—will each invest up to $3 billion in AI R&D.
He also mentioned Facebook's DeepText AI language comprehension and categorization, as well as Viv, saying that calling it another personal assistant misses the point. Viv, Jacobstein explained, is a tool that allows you to delegate work to a computer or an agent. You teach Viv how to do something, and from there it becomes a problem-solving utility akin to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It's with us all the time.
"The key point [about Viv] from an outside-in perspective, from a user perspective, is that they are no longer interacting with a system that's just a tool. You don't need to tell it everything you want it to do," Jacobstein told PCMag. "You show it what you want it to do, and then actually delegate work to this intelligent system."
Business and Open-Source Driving the AI Boom
From 2011-2015, over $3 billion was invested specifically in AI-related companies, according to Jacobstein. Beyond the Facebooks and Googles of the world, there are a host of start-ups and open-source initiatives applying next-gen machine learning, AI, and Big Data technologies to real-world business use cases. Jacobstein talked about a few:
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An AI-as-a-Service start-up bringing cloud-based data analysis and predictive analytics to the financial community, cyber-security companies, and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
A start-up using unconventional data and machine learning to give small to midsize businesses (SMBs) a line of credit up to $100,000 in a matter of minutes.
A machine-learning platform analyzing fraud in each step of financial transactions to identify anomalies with on-demand Big Data processing and AI for banking, e-commerce, payments, and lending.
A curated marketplace for AI professionals where companies can post a business problem they're experiencing and bid on an AI-based solution proposed by marketplace professionals. Jacobstein disclosed he's an investor in Experfy, which came out of HarvardX.
A start-up that created Eureqa, a virtual data scientist designed to extract answers from complex data 90 percent faster than traditional predictive models. Jacobstein described Eureqa as an example of how barriers of access to machine learning algorithms and data science tools hurt SMBs.
Google's open-source software library for machine-learning intelligence; an AI application development toolbox.
The nonprofit research company started by Elon Musk and Y-Combinator founder Sam Altman to put AI algorithms out into the public domain. This democratization of AI technology has already started with OpenAI Gym, an open-source system for evaluating reinforcement learning algorithms.
Smartphones Are Already Building Augmented Brains
"All of us have a common problem," Jacobstein said during his keynote. "The human brain has limitations in speed, memory, bandwidth, and built-in biases in cognition."
AI impacts human resources (HR) by augmenting people and adding machines and transforms business models radically, Jacobstein explained. He said AI is advancing toward the ability to construct an artificial neocortex and hippocampus—to replicate and accelerate rendered brain function and make artificial brains bigger and faster than our own.
Think about how your brain functions when using multiple monitors at work, or in extending your thoughts and tasks in an array of apps, tabs, and notes across your devices. The goal, Jacobstein said, is for the businesses driving this change to help transform the quality of institutions—be it education, healthcare, finance, etc.—and make sure users have transparent insight into how the technology is being used, where it's going, and what it can and can't do...yet. Customers shouldn't be afraid of this technology.
"The idea is to make sure people don't become miserable, angry, and alienated by technology that's having mostly beneficial effects," said Jacobstein. "As AI becomes more powerful, there's the question of making sure we are monitoring and understanding its objectives. We also want to make sure we have thought through the co-evolution of human and artificial intelligence. Both from the point of view of framing questions and problems we want AI to solve, but also how we partner with machines and the kind of relationships we want with them—models that are enhancing human self esteem."
AI is already performing a lot of our computational heavy lifting on the Web. As Jacobstein explained to PCMag, some of the people who grouse about technology would go completely crazy if they left their smartphone in a taxi. Whether it's wearables, smartphones, tablets, or laptops, users don't see the systems churning behind the icons on their smartphones, the encoded as-a-service power behind it.
"It'll start out being an enhancement for the elite, but like cell phones it will eventually democratize in price, and it's not too far in the future," said Jacobstein. "A smartphone is your brain being augmented by access to all the world's knowledge and a huge amount of machine intelligence behind all the back-end processing. You are already augmented by machine intelligence."