Artificial intelligence has always figured in New Year technology predictions. However, the notable difference this time is the sheer domination of AI in every segment of consumer life and business. In the coming months, we can expect the technology to get closer to our daily lives, to the extent of even blurring the human-machine boundaries.
Ericsson recently released its technology trends report which says consumers expect body language, facial expression and intonation to augment voice and touch during their interaction with devices. Over half the current users of intelligent voice assistants believe devices will increasingly be perceived as fellow human beings, says the report.
Michael Björn, Head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, says in future, devices will neither have buttons and switches nor need to be controlled digitally via a smartphone. “Today, you have to know all the intricacies of the devices you use. But in the future, the devices will know you instead. For this to become a reality, devices must be able to relay complex human interaction data to cloud-based processing, and respond intuitively within milliseconds, increasing requirements on next generation connectivity.”
All these aren’t far-fetched, considering that many AI-powered technologies we use today existed only in science fiction not too long ago.
In a lab in Toronto, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton and his team are working on training machines to see the world differently. “With his capsule networks, Hinton aims to finally give machines the same three-dimensional perspective that humans have — allowing them to recognise a coffee cup from any angle, after learning what it looks like from only one. This is not something that neural networks can do,” says a report in The New York Times.
Prashant Pradhan, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Developer Advocate, IBM India/South Asia, says, “In the next few years, almost every decision in business and our day-to-day life will be touched by AI, thereby assisting humans to further augment their intelligence. This will happen through systems that can understand, learn and reason, and interact naturally with human beings.”
“As roadblocks in adoption and implementation of AI, and fears around AI subside, we can expect a new set of opportunities that India can gain from — ranging from higher business efficiency and revenue augmentation, to improved data insights and better customer experiences,” says Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel India.
Data will become more powerful
Data will get more important in the new year. “With data becoming incredibly dynamic and the ability to transport it getting more and more challenging, the applications and resources needed to process it need to be equally efficient,” says Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC.
Data will not just become more important, but with AI applications, it will become more powerful too, giving a fillip to data analytics. “Artificial intelligence will not replace the analyst, but rather augment human intellect,” says Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer, Tableau. “Machine learning is rapidly becoming a valuable supplement for the analyst, as it builds on the technology and skills we’re already using: automating manual and labour-intensive tasks, and allowing more time for higher-level thinking, creativity and collaboration.”
While the scramble to embrace AI will intensify, there will be focus on what needs to be intelligently automated, so that resources aren’t invested in less productive segments. For example, robotic process automation (RPA) was seen as a big development, but many feel it hasn’t delivered results proportional to the investment. Stating that the new year will be one of ROI (return on investment), Rajesh Kamath, Vice President, Financial Services at Incedo Inc, says, “The RPA market will continue to see action and growth in 2018. However, the exuberance that has been seen in the past couple of years will start to tamp down and clients will begin to focus on how automation investments can really deliver returns.”
Securing data, devices
More powerful data; more connected devices; and more work out of the cloud. All this will mean increased levels of vulnerabilities for consumer devices as well as businesses. Smart appliances are getting more popular, but there is little safeguard, making them potential targets.
There will be increased application of niche technologies by cyber security solution providers. They will be able to not only read patterns of attacks, but also with machine learning be able to predict the type of attacks, so both consumers and enterprises can put preventive steps in place and reduce the time taken to detect the attacks.
“AI-based security applications can read and understand security — they analyse every incident, identify root causes, methods, trends and predict the next pattern even before it happens,” says Kartik Shahani, Integrated Security Leader, IBM India/South Asia. “IBM, for instance, has trained Watson in security and then integrated the technology in QRadar, our security intelligence platform, with results that found 10 times as many incidents, 60 times faster.”
Murtaza Bhatia, National Business Manager, Cyber Security, Dimension Data India, says newer technologies like Blockchain will help to ensure better protection in the areas of user authentication, and identity and access management. “It’s possible for businesses to make Blockchain ‘corporately visible’ within their organisation, to see every transaction that takes place between one individual and another, one piece of data and another, or one machine and another.”
AI versus AI
While artificial intelligence has made life easier, it has also become a new tool in the hands of hackers. In fact, many experts hint at the possibility of newer forms of attack. Tarun Kaura, Director, Product Management, APJ, Symantec, says 2018 will see for the first time an AI vs AI scenario in a cyber security context. “Cyber criminals will use AI to attack and explore victims’ networks, which is typically the most labour-intensive part of compromise after an incursion,” he says.
Nilesh Jain, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Trend Micro, says, “With respect to India, in 2018, we will experience more number of attacks targeted at ATMs, especially malware attacks. We also expect to see a rise in security incidents across public cloud platforms.”
With cryptocurrencies rising in popularity, cryptocurrency exchanges are likely to be sitting ducks for attacks, say experts. Security firm FireEye says it expects to see “more malware stealing cryptocurrency from weakly protected wallets, shimming password entry to wallets, stealing offline wallets for brute forcing, or using credentials stolen from the same user”.