2019 Will Be the Year of Artificial Intelligence
Near the end of 2017, I predicted that 2018 would be the year of voice-assisted technology. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this year, for me, has certainly been shaped by the introduction of Amazon Echo products into my daily routines.
A number of new voice-assisted technologies hit the market this year, though Alexa seems to have won the year. In June, I wrote about Google Duplex — the tech giant’s speech recognition project, which is coming closer to passing the so-called Turing test every day.
In case you missed it, here’s how the Turing test works. In 1950, the British computer scientist Alan Turing predicted that one day, a person would be able to observe a conversation between a human and a computer — and would not be able to distinguish between the two. That is, he wouldn’t be able to tell which was the human and which was the computer.
I suspected that voice-assisted technologies like Alexa would quickly break out beyond the “early-adopters” phase when my father got an Echo Dot after visiting my stepbrother, who had one, in Seattle. And it isn’t just something that sits on a shelf and goes unused; he uses it nearly every day.
So what about 2019? There is reason to believe that this trend will continue well into the new year and beyond — but I think that we will continue to see exponential growth across the field of artificial intelligence as a whole. I have written before about warnings issued by more than 1,000 tech experts, scientists and researchers who expressed their concerns over killer robots, and I suspect that will consider to be an ever-present topic of conversation as AI expands.
In a recent column for Forbes Magazine, self-described futurist and technology advisor Bernard Marr laid out five predictions about artificial intelligence for the coming year. Interestingly, he predicts that more jobs will be created by AI in 2019 than will be lost to it.
“While 1.8 million jobs will be lost to automation – with manufacturing in particular singled out as likely to take a hit – 2.3 million will be created,” Marr states, citing a recent report by Gartner.
He also notes that while, in the past, innovations in artificial intelligence have been fueled by a spirit of cooperation in the technology industry, moving forward he predicts that AI will “increasingly [become] a matter of international politics.” As innovation begins taking place in a more siloed atmosphere, and governments take steps to protect proprietary information, this could slow innovation in the field.
Marr also predicts that, when it comes to those voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
“In 2019, more of us than ever will use an AI assistant to arrange our calendars, plan our journeys and order a pizza,” Marr writes. “These services will become increasingly useful as they learn to anticipate our behaviors better and understand our habits.”
I completely agree. Advances in “machine learning” will have Alexa telling me, “Hmmmm… I don’t know that one” far less often in the coming year. And that’s a future I can look forward to, and one that I will embrace.
— Originally Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 12/06/18