Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Much more than robots

Session on Smart Machines, the next big disruption.

Apparently the era of smart machines is emerging now.

So, what are they?
Robots aren't necessarily smart!

Some common features:
They encroach on human space: Do what we thought only humans could do
Surprise: We didn't think technology could do that
Some smart machines are only clever brute force automation eg the Google Self Driving Car

Some technologies smarter than others. Really clever ones are self learning, autonomous, self guided, adaptive, creates its own rules, seeks data to test hypotheses, detects novelty.
Deep learning, eg language translation.
If if's not autonomous, it's not smart. Have to be able to do things on their own.

Some examples
Movers - autonomous vehicles
Kivas. Work in warehouses, collect items for dispatch

Robotic pack animal. Follows soldier. Recognises voice commands

This truck is used in mines. Autonomously drives, navigates around people, rock slides etc.

X47b drone just being developed. Can land and take off autonomously
Curiosity Rover on Mars another good example.

Sages - information based helpers
Virtual personal assistants
Showed a video clip from an Apple vision for a Knowledge navigator, produced in 1987. Demonstrated many of the things we have now, voice recognition, context etc. Siri hasn't quite got there yet.

Google are building a set of personal assistant technologies. GoogleNow.

Smart advisors
Focuses on content, is an expert on particular areas.
IBM's Watson best example. Can be delivered to a smart phone. Some examples of its use:
Clinical oncology. Recommending treatment plans. Can digest and analyse scientific knowledge in seconds.
Accelerating medical research. Retirement account planning.
All done with co development

E discovery
Can digest numerical data eg sales reports, and create textual analysis using AI technologies. Removes perceptual biases.
This is a good example of a textual analysis from a completely numerical sales report.

Baxter. World friendliest robot. Grab it's hand and show it what to do.
Robotic personal assistants. Observant, predictive. For people who need physical help.

This is a whole new way of people and technology working together to be far more effective than before.
Will be competitive advantage in using these technologies.

Smarter machines and smarter people will raise performance and lower costs.
But will there be significant unemployment? Truck drivers?
Will in some cases replace people. But will also assist, advise, help and extend people.
By 2020 there will be personal smart machines. Bring your own robot? Consumerisation will play big role in development of smart machines.

Expert advisors, Watson type machines, will start to take off in 2015
Personal agents by 2017
Autonomous vehicles by 2023

Some actions for us:
Can we exploit technologies like Watson to provide smart advisors using our specialist knowledge?
Could any part of our organisation benefit from being advised by smart advisors?
Look at implications of virtual personal assistants, security, privacy etc. Our employees and customers will use them, and we need to be prepared.
Smart machines will assist, advise, extend, observe and help knowledge workers to perform non routine tasks. Look at where we could pursue smart machine technologies.

Really interesting talk, showing that smart machines are so much more than Robots. Watson looks really cool. How could Universities, with our huge amount of specialist knowledge, use it?

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