Traditionally, technology was developed to replace manual processes performed by hand. Examples of this include machinery replacing human activity in manufacturing and farming. Now technology companies are looking to take things to the next level, even aiming to replicate the human body’s most powerful organ: the brain. What are some of the other major technology trends of our time?
The concept of automating aspects of business and society is not completely new. It has, however, gathered significant pace in recent years due to rapid advancements in technology. This is also the case for artificial intelligence (AI), which I believe will be the key driver of automation, all the way from basic menial tasks to more advanced tasks that require cognitive abilities. This brings me onto my first technology trend: pervasive AI.
Trend #1: Pervasive AI
In my world AI can be divided into two categories: low-level AI and high-level AI. Low-level AI is designed to automate repetitive tasks using intelligent automation tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) combined with conversational UI (chatbots) and/or image recognition (OCR). RPA tools allow users to configure software to interpret and act on data. An example of a process being automated by RPA is external purchases at a company via email or handling invoices. There is plenty of interest in this field from businesses, as many companies wish to eliminate manual tasks to free up internal resources.
“Only 15% of businesses use AI today, but 31% plan to incorporate it over the next 12 months.”
However, high-level AI goes much further than this and is getting to the level of replicating cognitive abilities and human judgement. The idea is to create deep learning models based on big data. This type of AI will look at all previous decisions and actions and learn from them. A prime example of where high-level AI could be used is for a help desk, call center or advisory in fields like insurance, law and medicine. The goal is to augment AI with the ability to make decisions and respond.
Trend #2: Harmonious Automation
In an increasingly automated world, what role will humans play? The rise of robots and intelligent systems will require striking the right balance between robots and people. Some tasks will be better suited to robots, while others will require the human touch. The aim is to create harmony between the two – known as harmonious automation. The challenge will be to determine how tasks are shared between the two. For example, a human would be better suited to dealing with an employee performance review and AI could provide product details more efficiently. Deciding on the most effective deployment of humans and AI is currently being investigated to ensure a smooth transition into the future. I call it “the human last mile” and in an increasingly automated world, the last percentages, still carried out by humans, become more important than ever. For that we need new processes, standards, and user interfaces (UI).
Trend #3: Intuitive UI
You may be thinking that this robot future sounds daunting and are questioning if there are any inventions for humans to use. Well, fear not, we’re not going to be left behind by technological advances, and the next trend on my list is human-centric: intuitive UI. Simply put, intuitive UI is about connecting humans with virtual reality that enables interaction with IT devices. Augmented reality is also becoming more common on smartphones. The aim is to not only reduce the size and weight of UI/UX devices, but also to make them more powerful and create a world of super-intelligent interfaces. An example of this is simulating industrial product designs in 3D rather than viewing them in the conventional format of sketches.
Trend #4: Data Sustainability
Without a significant volume of data to work with, tools such as AI would be redundant. For this reason, data sustainability finds itself on the list of leading technology trends. This concept is based on extracting value from data. AI can even analyze data to create content, including financial statements and news articles. However, there are certain challenges due to AI being reliant on data. Data must be accurate in order for the output to be credible. Therefore, it is vital to ensure data is reliable.
What’s Coming Next in Technology Trends?
The potential for AI as a driver of technology trends is massive and will continue to lead to higher levels of automation. Stay tuned for another four technology trends in the next part of this blog series.
Author: Thomas Nørmark, Global Director at itelligence Transformation Lab