The 2019 AI outlook
At CES, it’s no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) powers much of the emerging technology on display in Las Vegas this week — as well as the technology many of us already use day-to-day.
At yesterday and today’s CES media days — the two days when press and analysts get a first look at what’s to come at this week’s largest consumer electronics show to take place each year — AI has dominated several presentations and discussions. And where it’s hasn’t, it’s lingering in the background, standing as a silent, unsung hero that powers what is predicted to become some of the most important developments in technology.
At the 2019 CES Tech Trends to Watch presentation, for instance, AI was frequently mentioned as a key factor in the success of such emerging technologies as self-driving cars, smart home devices, and voice-assistant-powered smart speakers.
From consumer impressions to expert insight, here’s what they had to say about the outlook for AI in 2019.
One of the first things Deb and Hummel spoke to were certain mistaken notions of AI that they’ve observed in their research.
First, they said, the capabilities of AI are often overestimated — with some holding the impression that the technology is able to execute more tasks than what’s realistic.
What AI is actually capable of doing is “very task-specific and very purpose-built,” said Deb, “and only scratching the surface for what we can do [with AI] in the future.”
The second misconception is that “AI is magical” — that is, AI is less a product of science, and more an extraordinary technology to marvel at.
But when thinking about AI, Deb encourages those who consider a work of magic to “look underneath the hood,” and see that what actually powers AI is “algorithms and mathematics” — which learn from human behavior to replicate and automate certain tasks.
Finally, the third major AI misconception is that “AI will turn against us,” conjuring memories of such classic films as Space Odyssey, in which a robot named Hal eventually learns to outsmart and betray its human counterparts. According to this morning’s presentation, that reality is unlikely — though how the outcome will be prevented was not specifically addressed.
A fourth, “unofficial” AI misconception also arose, which is that “AI is a job killer,” as Deb phrased it. To the contrary, he explains, AI is “reshaping the job market,” creating three core human roles.
How AI Could Reshape the Job Market
Hummel explained that, rather than eliminating jobs, it’s projected that AI will create three key categories of new jobs
Trainers are the humans that teach AI-powered machines how to communicate with humans. A good example of where this type of training might play a vital role is in natural language processing (NLP), which helps AI like voice assistants not only speak more naturally to the humans that use them — but also, how to understand the context and connotations of what a human is saying, depending on how something is phrased or the tone with which it is spoken.
A somewhat self-explanatory title, explainers are humans who help those in non-technical roles understand how AI works, what it’s designed to do, and the roles played by the aforementioned items “under the hood” — like algorithms — to help AI function seamlessly.
Finally, sustainers are the humans who work to ensure that AI algorithms are maintained to work properly — in a way, like anyone responsible for overseeing the maintenance and functionality of any other machinery — as well as responsible, and reliable.
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