In the first of my blog series, we explored the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and the amazing feats it has achieved in provinces reserved until recently for human intelligence. With its increasing speed and accuracy in areas such as image classification, natural language processing, video intelligence and analytics, AI is rapidly becoming the answer to previously unsolvable problems in cities, industry, healthcare, and the daily lives of humans throughout the world.

But by its very nature, AI grows at an exponential rate, while the growth of human intelligence is linear. AI is fast becoming a force that may be unstoppable by humans. 

As AI follows its course, some sceptics prophesize that it will ultimately spell doom for humanity. They conjure a very dystopian scenario in which machine overlords reign supreme over humanity and ultimately annihilate us. Fears about robots, automatons, and evil computers have been around since the advent of AI technology itself and have remained in the public conversation with the popularity of movies such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the “Terminator” series, the “Matrix” series, “Ex Machina,” “Transcendence,” “Her,” and many more. We all realize that these movies are just telling fictional stories about the potential dark side of AI. But some well-known and highly respected experts are sounding similar themes that are delivering a serious reality check.

In this camp are notable tech luminaries such as Bill Gates and the late Stephen Hawking. They have voiced sobering warnings despite the fact that all three have themselves contributed immeasurably to AI’s success and reap its benefits. Stephen Hawking relied on an advanced, AI-assisted, context-aware toolkit to communicate with the world. Bill Gates also holds a similar opinion, although his concerns focus more on the loss of jobs and unemployment scenarios rather than a more scorched-earth view. Many of these experts believe that true AI may be the last invention we ever make.

However despite the constant din of gloom and doomsday scenarios by naysayers, the reality is that there are bright shoots springing up all around us. AI has impacted every industry in a positive way in the past decade with benefits ranging from step changes in operational efficiencies to augmented customer experiences to complete business model renovation. Although the early gains were visible in the consumer sector, the race for AI supremacy in the Industrial space is now picking up. Industrial AI is forecasted to surpass consumer AI and will have a significantly larger impact on the global economy and society.

At Hitachi, we are uniquely poised to drive the wave of Industrial AI and we have already taken the lead in doing commendable work done across multiple sectors including manufacturing, railways, energy, water and logistics. In my future blogs in the blog series, I will be covering the work being done at large across multiple industry sectors. Watch out for the next one in the blog series which will feature ‘AI in Manufacturing’.