5 artificial intelligence developments to watch

AI: A global technological phenomenon

If your business isn't considering the potential impact of AI, it should be. Artificial intelligence may not have passed the Turing Test, but its avid adoption across industries suggests that investment will continue to soar. Within the next five years, Transparency Market Research predicts that the global AI market will exceed $3bn. Over the last year, various organisations have contributed to a vibrant and competitive space. Here, we list five of AI's most interesting developments.

1) AI on the brain

One of the more lofty aspirations of AI enthusiasts is the creation of brain to computer interfaces (BCIs). These systems aim to remove the lag between thought, action, and computer response. In simple terms, BCIs merge electrical impulses in the brain with computerised tools. At the moment, BCI applications focus largely on alleviating the symptoms of those with nerve or limb injuries. Outside of healthcare, BCIs could be used in industry to 'telepathically' control machinery and production lines.

BCIs are more than a pipe dream. In 2018, a team of neuroengineers successfully converted thought into speech using AI. A number of companies have also made tangible progress. The most well known – not least of all due to its somewhat erratic CEO Elon Musk – is Neuralink. Other notable companies include Kernel and Neurable.

2) Facial recognition hits the mainstream

Thanks to technological advances in deep learning and image recognition, facial recognition has become alarmingly accurate. Assuming it is accurate and without bias, facial recognition can improve efficiency and security. In 2018, pop star Taylor Swift used facial recognition technology at a concert to pick out stalkers in the crowd. Unfortunately, Swift failed to consider that this compromised the privacy of her fans.

Despite regulatory uncertainty, facial recognition is already used by major companies. Apple and Microsoft both leverage facial recognition as a form of authentication, Alibaba's grocery venture Freshippo uses it to verify payments, and Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport has installed a facial check in system.

3) Digital twins grow up

Digital twins are exact replicas of products, processes, or services. Following the maturity of AI, machine learning, and data analytics, the advantages of digital twins have become clear. They can monitor systems in real time, using intelligent software to optimise essentially any operation. Digital Twins are certainly a technology trend to watch as their use and deployment in business expands. The global digital twin market hit $1.88bn in 2018, with optimistic estimates that the number will rise to $13.6bn by the end of 2025.

4) Governments take AI seriously

On May 10th 2018, the White House hosted its first AI Summit, bringing together over 100 senior government officials, tech experts, and American business leaders. More likely than not, the Artificial Intelligence For American Industry summit represented the US government's response to global competition. China has been steadily enacting its plan to become a world leader in AI, and the EU has announced that it will invest at least $24bn in the technology by 2020. The White House summit showed a shift that Artificial intelligence has moved out of the realms of business and now sits firmly at the top of the official agenda.

5) 'Emotional' AI

Artificial intelligence might not be able to feel emotions, but it can understand them. Intelligent systems can now recognise, interpret and replicate human emotion. Artificial emotional intelligence, otherwise known as affective computing, is the field in which smart software can recognise, interpret and replicate human emotion. Last year, an experiment at Ohio State University found that AI could recognise different emotions more accurately than human participants. Ultimately, artificial emotional intelligence signals the expansion of AI into jobs that were previously thought of as fundamentally 'human'.