Artificial intelligence was once only seen in Hollywood Sci-Fi films, but that narrative is quickly changing. Society is progressively becoming closer with AI, as it is used in things we interact with every day where we may not even realize it. Whether it’s with your Amazon Alexa, Siri, or even Google Maps on your commute which uses anonymized location data from smartphones, AI has an increasing presence to make simple tasks much easier. So, what even is artificial intelligence and which industries will it have the greatest impact on? Artificial Intelligence allows machines to learn from experiences, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. Most AI instances you hear about today from chess playing programs to self-driving-cars rely heavily on deep learning and natural language processing. Using these skills, computers can be trained to complete specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data. The three industries that AI will undoubtedly have a substantial impact on within the next 10 years will be Healthcare, Transportation, and Finance.
Let’s start off with Healthcare. Healthcare is an industry that has avoided disruption for quite a while, but it looks AI could provide some much-needed disruption. With AI implemented into the healthcare industry, it would be able to free up time from physicians by taking care of menial tasks, aid in the discovery of new drugs and treatments, and will be able to provide personalized healthcare to every single patient in the system. The general care disruption is one of the most exciting fields in my opinion. Some companies that are making great strides in this field are Babylon Health, CareSkore, and AiCure. Babylon Health combines real doctors with AI to deliver 24/7 personalized healthcare experience, all through a smartphone. This is something that could be extremely beneficial in emerging markets where there is an abundance of smartphone users. CareSkore is leveraging Google’s TensorFlow and Hadoop to identify at-risk patients by combining clinical behavioral, demographic and socioeconomic information. TensorFlow is a very interesting open-source library for machine intelligence, and if you’re interested in learning more then click here. The last one, AiCure reduces the risk of patients skipping medications they are prescribed through a HIPAA-compliant AI agent that observes a patient through a smartphone. These examples show great innovative breakthroughs, with even more to come in the future, but they still have a long way to go until they are fully integrated into our daily healthcare services. Babylon has partnered with the United Kingdom’s NHS (National Health Service) on a six-month trial offering their AI-Powered chatbot triage service as an alternative to the NHS’s 111 telephone helpline that patients call to get healthcare advice and be directed to local and out-of-hours medical services. This could potentially spur rapid growth for Babylon Health. Babylon Health’s CEO has made it very clear that growth is dependent upon cooperation between their own disruptive technology along with current industry standards, saying the following: “Babylon scientists predict that we will shortly be able to diagnose and foresee personal health issues better than doctors, but this is about machines and medics co-operating not competing.”
The next area of innovation and disruption thanks to AI will be transportation. The first thought that comes to mind when someone hears transportation and AI would be an autonomous car, but there are other things being impacted as well. For example, AI is helping the airline industry in a number of ways. Algorithms are learning to predict delays, which gives airports and airlines a better shot at dodging them, but the real innovation is happening within the cockpit. Artificial intelligence powered autopilots could help manage the complexity of airline operations. Just about every aircraft is equipped with thousands of sensors which generate mass amounts of data. All that data is then broken down by complex predictive machine learning algorithms that can then give information on a number of things from in-flight performance characteristics, safety, and predictive maintenance. Autopilot features are already in place with planes and can get you from point A to point B without any help aside from taking off and landing. Experts say that we will have the first round of fully autonomous pilots by 2025, but there will most likely still be pilots on board for the psychological reassurance of passengers. Researchers at the University College London are also developing a new autopilot system that learns how to manage emergencies by watching how well-trained pilots do so, and then behaving as they do in similar circumstances. It will be interesting to see what the automated system identifies as an emergency, so this is definitely a field of aviation to keep your eyes on within the coming years. If these developments into AI piloting continues, then perhaps people may even enjoy flying with United(UAL).
The real winners of this revolution in the sky will be the ones who are developing this technology, so who are they? Boeing(BA), Harris Corporation(HRS), Honeywell International Inc.(HON), Rockwell Collins Inc.(COL), Spirit Aerosystems(SPR), Transdigm Group(TDG), and Garmin(GRMN) make up the majority of the industry leaders for in-flight technology. It looks like Boeing, Honeywell, and Garmin will be the industry leaders in the years to come since they already have well-established relationships with the largest airlines in the world. Below you can see the performance of the avionics companies along with a few airlines they have ties with.
The financial industry may see some of the quickest disruptions due to artificial intelligence implementation. The finance industry is majority quantitative and data-driven, which makes it a perfect match for AI. Banking has a massive potential usage for AI as it would help with activities such as fraud detection, meeting regulatory requirements, lowering costs and increasing revenue, improving the customer experience, and boosting customer engagement. All those examples are being implemented by some of the largest banks in the world to help steamroll operations, but how can AI disrupt other areas of financial services?
Robo-advising is a breakthrough in the financial services industry as financial advisors are now available on a much larger scale with a cheaper price, and you cannot be misled by traditional commission incentivized financial advisors. Robo-Advisors are digital platforms that provide automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services with little to no human supervision. Aside from financial planning, wealth management is slowly becoming automated as well. There will be more stagnation and resistance from the wealth management side for personable reasons, but full automation is inevitable. Companies like Charles Schwab(SCHW) and Vanguard were some of the first to get into the digital advice world, and many other large financial institutions followed in their footsteps.
Below you can see some larger public companies that have already implemented some automated financial advising and management into their business model. It is unclear how this will impact smaller firms in the long run, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a big financial institutional make an acquisition of a robo-advising startup like WealthFront or Betterment.
These disruptions with AI sound amazing, but who is leading the charge for AI development? In a nutshell, the leaders are Google(GOOGL), Facebook(FB), IBM(IBM), and Apple(AAPL) in the United States. China is also working nonstop in the race for AI dominance. Chinese firms such as Tencent(TCEHY), Baidu(BIDU), and Alibaba(BABA) are all working towards becoming AI driven titans. China has a great ecosystem for AI, all thanks to the mass population of well over 1.3 billion people providing astronomical amounts of data a daily basis. There is also no shortage of talent within the space, with top Chinese firms paying whatever it takes to get the top researchers in the field. The government works closely with these firms and even subsidizes their research and development processes to aid the development of this what will soon be a multibillion-dollar industry.
Google(GOOGL) is doing many interesting things in the AI space, from predicting the properties of molecules with machine learning to discovering exoplanets by distant stars, and simple things such as improving Google translate with machine learning to increase translation quality. It also is rumoured to come out with transcription services, and will initially provide corporate transcription services. As I said earlier, AI is heavily reliant on data and lucky for Google they have plenty of data to play with. It’s no secret that Google probably knows more about you than most of your friends. If you use chrome and have a Gmail account then they most likely know your name, gender, birthdate, cell phone number, recent searches, websites you’ve visited, your exact location over the past several years, your interests, where you work, where you live, your YouTube searches, etc. This sounds a bit frightening at first, but without knowing things like these you wouldn’t receive a customized user experience. You can see everything Google knows about you here. Since Google has all this data, it allows them to better develop their AI systems to do several different things, branching out into multiple industries. Here are some neat experiments that people are doing with Google.
Up next is IBM with their AI product better known as Watson. Watson isn’t much different from other AI projects, besides the fact that IBM has wrapped all its abilities into a product that can help clients with a number of tasks including accelerating research and discovery, anticipating and preempting disruptions, detecting liabilities and mitigating risk, etc. IBM is a company with a rich history stemming all the way back from the early 1900’s when it was originally called the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation. They’ve always had a presence in the business world with products like the Selectric typewriter in 1964, the floppy disk in 1971 (better known today as the save icon), and the Personal Computer ten years later. In recent years however IBM has struggled to keep their status as the world’s go-to tech company, but they aim to regain their lost ground with their Watson product as they see AI as a substantial part of the future of all businesses.
With more than 20% of the world’s population on Facebook, it’s important that they aim to make interactions seem more human-like, and they plan to do this by means of artificial intelligence. Facebook already uses AI in many different aspects of their business. The example you would be most familiar with would be photo recognition. That’s right, when you get tagged in an embarrassing picture it’s usually AI using facial recognition to identify you. Facial recognition technology has been around for a while, but has only recently entered the mainstream, most notably with the Face ID on the iPhone X. Facebook isn’t necessarily making any major breakthroughs for artificial, but instead finding ways to implement it into everyday life to not replace human interactions, but amplify them. Facebook has already implemented audio aids that describe posts to the blind so they can get more out of their Facebook experience.
When talking about artificial intelligence, it would be wrong not to mention Amazon (AMZN). Amazon has been using machine learning and deep learning, two different fields of AI, to improve their business in a number of ways such as image and video classification, segmentation, speech recognition, natural language understanding, and improving recommendation engines to keep you buying all the items you so desperately “need”. Amazon has embraced this technology and it has been to their great benefit. Jeff Bezos has repeated their emphasis on artificial intelligence and how they will continue to heavily invest in this area in order to continually scale their business. Amazon web services will also soon begin offering affordable tools so that clients can implement machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence into their own operations.
Overall, it is undoubted that artificial intelligence will revolutionize many different industries in a multitude of ways, but the timeline for that revolutionization will come in waves. There are many different places where we can identify a potential use case for AI, but the implementation is the problem. It is important we remember we are in the early stages of a technology that will change the way our society fundamentally works. It’s not farfetched to think we will use AI to help us with day to day decisions such as what to wear, and much harder decisions to make such as firing or hiring someone. This is definitely an industry to keep your eye on as it matures into the multi-billion-dollar behemoth it is poised to become.