What's boiling up in technology - the WEF vision - VIII. Open AI Ecosystems

Smart digital assistants are just getting better and competition is heating up. Credit: Gwen Sun, CNN Money

WEF expects digital Personal Assistants to become ever more used in 2016 and have a stronger impact. In the last few years there has been a shift from being able to understand questions voiced in natural language to proactively come to our help by understanding our needs based on habits, like coming back home from work every day at 6pm and prompting us on the best, less congested, route. The thin line separating helpfulness from privacy seems to be shifting in user behaviour towards helpfulness, with users more and more willing to share personal data, including the ones related to health monitoring.

>>> Digital Personal Assistants are the focus of WEF prediction, however the header, Open AI Ecosystem, is much broader and I have to say I am more interested in the global picture than in the focus on Personal Digital Assistants. Yes, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Now and the ones that will come next, are clearly being used more and more, to the point that we might not noticing them any more, but the real changes ahead, in my view, are the one related to the context awareness and distributed intelligence that is now becoming more and more reality.

Digital Personal Assistants have improved their usefulness because they got smarter. And part of that "smartness" is the increase in awareness about us and about the context. This increase in awareness is a general trend that leverages on the availability of more data (sensors, storage and access to data through the network, open data) and new technology to extract information out of data (deep learning, processing, distributed processing). In other terms leveraging on Open AI Ecosystems.

I mentioned in a previous post Olli, a smart vehicle that leverages on Watson AI and context awareness. It is another example of a global awareness that is made available for a specific application.

In the health care domain there is a growing interest in pooling data as a way to help in diagnoses, create and test new drugs on virtual patients and more. The number of start ups being created leveraging on AI keeps growing, and we have just begun.

Another area where context awareness is crucial is Smart Cities. There was an interesting article, back in 2010, titled: "Could self-aware cities be the first forms of artificial intelligence?". The question, as it is often the case, is more important than the answer (the text of the article). Since 2010 a lot has changed in terms of available data and technology to leverage on data. Today it is quite clear that the smartness of a city is also tied to its awareness, not just in terms of buildings, infrastructures (soft and hard), vehicles, power systems... but also in terms of a collective awareness of people, again based on a diffused knowledge and sentiment that can be monitored and reinforced through an Open AI Ecosystem.

Digital Industry, or Industry 4.0, is another area where I feel that structural awareness will play a significant role in the coming years.  

Finally, I would say that 5G will be based on an interplay of infrastructures that will actually work on a distributed awareness on what is going on, why it is going on, and what next may be needed.  Present networks are good in knowing what is going on. In future networks the capability to understand why it is going on and predict what next will be needed will make the difference.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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