IBM has just published its latest research on artificial intelligence (AI) trends that we can expect to see really take off in the coming five years. The IT giant believes that technological progress in these five fields will spread its benefits widely, improving the way things work in a number of areas closely affecting the general public.

Artificial intelligence is a priority in many sectors



Technology advances now under way and some yet to come are set to propel our current IT systems into a new era of cognitive systems. In the past, the notion of efficient technology was all about being able to meet the demands of a vast number of people, whereas today technology is learning to treat each person as a unique individual rather than a statistic. Every year, IBM Research publishes five predictions for major technology trends in the following five years. This year, the predictions focus on systems that have the ability to learn and then adapt accordingly. This technological progress has been driven especially by the explosion of data from the emerging Internet of Things. IBM already made a name for itself in the AI field some years ago when it unveiled Watson, a supercomputer that can understand natural language. Today, scientists and engineers are seeking to create machines which can detect, learn, reason and interact with people and provide them with advice and assistance.

AI technology within reach of the public

According to IBM, current technological progress will manifest itself in five major trends in the coming five years, as a result of which a range of devices which make use of artificial intelligence will come within reach of the general public. In the field of education, classrooms will start to be run on the basis of a thorough knowledge of each student’s abilities and difficulties so as to provide teachers with the means of helping them master the skills they need in order to attain their objectives. Clued-up retailers will be able to exploit cognitive technologies, coupled with the immediacy of bricks-and-mortar stores in order to create experiences which cannot be replicated solely on online sales platforms. Meanwhile, computers will be helping doctors to understand how a patient’s specific DNA mutations have, for instance, led to the growth of a cancerous tumor and will recommend the most effective medicines to help the patient combat the disease. Cognitive systems will provide a picture of what people need, what they like, what they are doing, and how they move around so that officials running our cities will be better placed to meet citizens’ needs. Last but not least, online security systems will have a 360° view of a person’s data, peripherals and applications and will be able to spot threats of cyber-attacks or imminent attempts at identity theft.

Projects designed to prepare for the coming trends

IBM is now running a number of projects designed to help the company respond to the new opportunities offered by progress in AI. For example, as part of its efforts to improve the general education system – Education for a Smarter Planet – IBM is developing large scale integrated solutions for education providers. The firm recently teamed up with the Gwinnett Country Public Schools system in Georgia, USA, which according to a news release, “leverages big data, deep analytics, and cognitive technologies to generate actionable insights for personalized education and learning pathways for students” and combines this with traditional classroom teaching. Under its Smarter Commerce initiative, IBM is looking to develop omni-channel solutions to lead traditional retailers towards a more digital model and is also planning initiatives based on AI and portable geolocation, along the lines of Apple's iBeacon. Another of IBM’s predictions is that in five years it will take doctors only one day to obtain a map of a patient’s DNA.They will then be able to use Cloud-based systems such as WatsonPaths, which crunch clinical data combined with the latest research and work out recommendations for medical staff. Meanwhile, as part of the Smarter Cities initiatives, IBM has gone into partnership with the city of Dubuque (Iowa) in the US to install smart water meters that make use of connected sensors and predictive analysis to help householders manage their water supply moreactively.

By Manon Garnier