In a May 2016 post to the White House blog, titled "Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence," then-President Barack Obama said:
"Today's AI is confined to narrow, specific tasks, and isn't anything like the general, adaptable intelligence that humans exhibit. Despite this, AI's influence on the world is growing. The rate of progress we have seen will have broad implications for fields ranging from healthcare to image- and voice-recognition. In healthcare, the President's Precision Medicine Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot will rely on AI to find patterns in medical data and, ultimately, to help doctors diagnose diseases and suggest treatments to improve patient care and health outcomes.
In education, AI has the potential to help teachers customize instruction for each student's needs. And, of course, AI plays a key role in self-driving vehicles, which have the potential to save thousands of lives, as well as in unmanned aircraft systems, which may transform global transportation, logistics systems, and countless industries over the coming decades.
Like any transformative technology, however, artificial intelligence carries some risk and presents complex policy challenges along several dimensions, from jobs and the economy to safety and regulatory questions... AI systems can also behave in surprising ways, and we're increasingly relying on AI to advise decisions and operate physical and virtual machinery --adding to the challenge of predicting and controlling how complex technologies will behave."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016, said most directly and simply, "AI will be infused into everything. The currency going forward is going to be how to build trust in technology so that people and organizations are comfortable using more technology, and I think that's one of the pressing issues of our time,"
He spoke of "democratizing AI," describing Microsoft's four-pronged approach:
- Agents. Harness AI to change human and computer interaction through agents such as Microsoft's digital personal assistant Cortana
- Applications. Infuse every application, from the photo app on your smart phone to Skype and Office 365, with intelligence
- Services. Make these same intelligent capabilities that are infused in Microsoft's apps -- cognitive capabilities such as vision, speech, and machine analytics -- available to every developer in the world
- Infrastructure. Build the world's most powerful AI supercomputer with Azure and make it available to anyone, to enable people and organizations to harness its power.
According to the Microsoft Partner Blog, Gartner shared some "creepy, but cool AI facts" during Nadella's presentation, including:
- The data gathered from users in cloud-based neural networks will power 40% of mobile interactions between virtual personal assistants and people by 2020.
- By the end of 2018, customer digital assistants will recognize customers by face and voice.
- 85% of all customer interactions won't require human customer service reps by the end of this decade.
- 20% of business content will be authored by machines by 2018.
- By 2018, 6 billion connected devices will proactively ask for support.
- By 2020, autonomous software agents outside of human control will participate in 5% of all economic transaction.
- By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a so-called "robo-boss."
- By 2018, an estimated 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices on the job.
It's clear that the advances in AI will have great impact on what it means to be an employee and who you will be working with day-to-day. Forrester predicts that AI will replace 16% of jobs over the next decade. The influx of AI is already seen in the growing use of Cortana and other personal assistants. Things are changing so rapidly that big names like Elon Musk has reportedly invested big money in the safe and ethical use of AI.
Invest in Your AI Future
IT Pros seeking to invest their time, energy, and funds to prepare themselves for this dizzying period of change should pay special attention to a few key phrases:
- Artificial Intelligence - Despite the forewarnings of foremost geniuses, the goal is to enable natural collaborative interactions between computers and people, hopefully to extend human understanding.
- Machine Learning - Services available from Microsoft Azure provide a fully managed cloud service that enables you to easily build, deploy, and share predictive analytics solutions.
- Cognitive -Microsoft Cognitive Services let you build apps with powerful algorithms using just a few lines of code. They work across devices and platforms such as iOS, Android, and Windows, they keep improving, and they are easy to set up.
Webpages reached via each of the links provided include opportunities to "Get Started" with each of these disciplines, along with learning resources and valuable guidance. Bone up on these topics now, and you'll be an invaluable resource to your company for many years into the future.