Artificial Intelligence: Are we on the verge of a revolutionary technological transition?

07/06/2022 | 08:41am EDT

Machine learning techniques are driving productivity gains that have never been seen before. Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we work, from workflow solutions to trend forecasting, and even the way companies buy advertising. Artificial intelligence research is so promising that it's becoming difficult to imagine a world without it. From self-driving cars to more accurate weather forecasting to space travel, artificial intelligence will be in everyday life by 2030.

In 2021, the artificial intelligence market was $341, billion, according to Statista, and some estimate the market weight to be over $1.5 trillion by 2030, a 358% increase in the space of eight years. It is possible, however, that the artificial intelligence market will grow at this rate, thanks to research and innovation by tech giants, enabling the adoption of advanced technologies in sectors such as healthcare, automotive, finance, transportation and travel, e-commerce, agriculture and household tasks.

Source: Statista – Market size and revenue comparison for artificial intelligence worldwide from 2018 to 2030

Many prospects for AI:

In the healthcare industry, artificial intelligence is a major asset and improves almost every aspect of the industry. Especially since the healthcare industry has often suffered from poor processes and rising costs. AI allows for private records, robot-assisted surgery, improved diagnosis, improved and personalized treatment.... Nevertheless, AI is most needed in pathology detection. It creates systems that allow pathologists to look at tissue samples to make much more precise and accurate diagnoses. For example, Atomwise partnered with GC Pharma in 2020 to offer AI-based services and be the first to help develop new, more effective therapies for hemophilia.

There has been a major energy transition in the automotive sector from combustion engine vehicles to electrically powered vehicles. Today, artificial intelligence is essential for autonomous vehicles - cars, subways - to ensure the best driving techniques, safety measures and efficient routes at all times. Forecasts predict nearly 33 million vehicles with autonomous driving capabilities by 2040. 

Finance isn’t an exception. It will benefit more from AI technology advances in the coming years. Real-time data communication, accuracy and processing of large numbers of critical factors will be improved. It will enable machine learning, algorithmic trading, adaptive intelligence, chatbots, automation in their financial processes, increased security and fraud identification.

Enjoy Google Maps? It is thanks to artificial intelligence that this type of application is able to scan roads using advanced algorithms to find efficient routes while indicating upcoming traffic conditions in real time, suggest the most suitable route to drivers or even book trips remotely. 

E-commerce, since the 2000s, has exploded and allowed millions of people to order products from all over the world and have them delivered quickly. Amazon was one of the first companies to take full advantage of the possibilities offered by AI, allowing it to establish itself as the AI king of e-commerce. The use of artificial intelligence allows for better customer tracking, delivery time optimization, personalized recommendations... 

The agricultural revolution between the 18th and 19th century was one of the three main evolutions that Homo Sapiens experienced. The use of AI is about to bring a new revolution in agriculture by defending crop yields against several factors such as population growth, climate change, employment issues, and food security issues. It allows the optimization of agricultural land through the analysis of data such as weather, soil, crop performance and temperature, but also the use of technological objects such as drones or autonomous tractors. 

Household tasks are also benefiting from the development of artificial intelligence. In the 50's, the first advertisements for vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers appeared, which revolutionized an era, allowing to increase the performances, the results and to reduce the time spent to do them. Today, artificial intelligence has allowed us to save an enormous amount of time with the appearance of autonomous vacuum cleaners, cleaners or lawn mowers that can do the work for us. 

The graph below shows the spending on ads related to artificial intelligence by 2032. So, there is a link between the sectors benefiting from these advances and the rising spending.

Source: Statista – Artificial intelligence enabled advertising spending worldwide in 2022 and 2032

More frequent mergers:

It's no wonder that more and more companies are using AI to reduce operational costs - simpler, secure and cost-effective data storage and retrieval - while increasing profits, to gain a competitive advantage in the cloud - installation, integration, maintenance, support - or to improve the customer experience. In March 2020, McDonald's invested more than $300 million in AI startup Dynamic Yield to increase personalization and improve the customer experience. 
Despite the high cost of computing hardware - graphics processing units, central processing units - researchers, developers and computer scientists have access to more data allowing them to innovate faster and mine more data. For example, Intel Corporation acquired in 2020, which is a company that operates a platform that enables data scientists to create and run machine learning models to drive artificial intelligence activities.

Source: Statista – Number of artificial intelligence startups acquired from 2010 to 2021, by company

This chart clearly shows a buying trend from these technology companies, which are among those spending the most on R&D. Especially since the purchases of companies and start-ups in artificial intelligence were significant in 2022 and are expected to be increasingly numerous in the years to come. 

Higher R&D spending:

Throughout history, wars and conflicts have always led to discoveries and revolutions afterwards, improving the lives of citizens. One example is the Cold War, which led to the development of four major technologies: space technology, handheld cameras and microphones, nuclear power and the Internet. Today, in the digital age, companies around the world are in a race for development and innovation. The world is increasingly connected and providing customers with personalized performance, recommendations and a better experience are among the main objectives. Therefore, companies are investing heavily in available tools like artificial intelligence and data analytics solutions that can help companies manage actionable insights from their data and predict their future needs. That's why R&D investments are growing, allocating ever-increasing capital in a race to develop these capabilities, and accounting for a significant portion of technology companies' revenue. You can see in the table below the share that these investments represent for the major players in the artificial intelligence market, namely Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Nvidia, Meta, Intel, IBM, Salesforce. The research laboratories of these large companies are pushing the limits of artificial intelligence in areas such as image recognition, natural language processing ... 

Amazon, Alibaba and Ocado are giants of the online commerce and are among the companies that have bet the most on the development of robotics. It is in their warehouses that thousands of robots assist - even replace - employees to improve productivity and efficiency of order processing. Warehouse automation requires massive investments, but according to them, artificial intelligence allows to multiply the efficiency of shipping, to minimize costs, to maximize benefits. This technological revolution should see the light of day in more and more companies in the years to come, because it allows to densify storage by 40% and to have warehouses that work 24 hours a day with the aim of preparing and sending orders more quickly and thus attracting more customers. This is why Amazon paid $678 million to acquire Kiva Systems in 2012 to have automated and robotic warehouses. 

Tesla's business model is based on two major points: artificial intelligence and the intensive development of autonomous vehicles - with the objective of improving road safety by reducing the number of serious accidents while making traffic flow more smoothly thanks to inter-vehicle communication. AI is a major source of innovation in production to improve process efficiency, reduce costs and analyze data from Big Data. Especially since Tesla's Machine Learning System is currently the best data mining system on the market and wants to develop a software license for all autonomous vehicles, regardless of the manufacturer.

We could also look at Apple's augmented reality glasses project. Many rumors are circulating on this subject, but a launch in 2025 is possible. After a totally failed launch by Google in 2012, companies like Snapchat launched theirs in 2017 with rather good returns. The objective of these glasses is simple: to have all the functions of one's phone available at eye level while having both hands free. It will be possible, thanks to the voice assistant, to perform actions without looking away from the outside world. 

Artificial intelligence is also necessary for the use of the cloud and with the constant increase in data production, storage methods must keep pace and its development is one of the most important. The cloud is also the most secure method of storing data and that is why more and more projects are being created or are constantly evolving such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure or Alibaba Cloud.

Some companies to watch out in this sector:

Siemens, the German multinational company that focuses on areas such as energy, electrification, digitalization and automation, is betting heavily on artificial intelligence.  This will allow them to plan and design products and machines more flexibly and efficiently, and to manufacture high-quality, affordable, individualized products more quickly. Siemens wants to develop products, plants, systems and machines through a connection to MindSphere - Siemens' open, cloud-based IoT operating system. At the same time, Siemens wants to collaborate with Google to develop applications such as automating repetitive tasks, visually inspecting products or predicting wear and tear on machines on the assembly line. And, the company has a project to monitor transformers on poles and prevent power outages.
Tencent, one of China's most influential companies has many advanced AI labs developing tools to process information across its ecosystem, NLP, news aggregators and facial recognition. With one of China's leading video streaming platforms - Tencent Music - in its portfolio, funding for AI projects is very important there. 

The Trade Desk, via their AI named Koa, analyzes data on the internet to determine what certain audiences are looking for and where ads should be placed to optimize reach and cost. Using their AI, they are able to optimize clients' ad campaigns and suggest performance improvement, while the campaign is running. 

DocuSign uses electronic signature technology to digitize the contracting process across a multitude of industries. It uses Artificial intelligence that enables contract analysis and powered risk analysis, which makes contract negotiations more efficient.

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is a revolutionary field of computer science, poised to become the main component of various emerging technologies like big data and robotics. Today, artificial intelligence is already an integral part of our lives, even if we often don’t see it. Despite its rapid development and evolution, sometimes the subject of much controversy, artificial intelligence remains a great opportunity, from a military perspective for example, where it will be deployed to improve both defensive and offensive cyber operations. Data ecosystems are scalable, lean, and provide timely data to heterogeneous sources but artificial intelligence will enable business and development process optimization.

© 2022
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