Sunday 24th April 2016
AI Hits the Mainstream
Insurance, finance, manufacturing, oil and gas, auto manufacturing, health care: these may not be the industries that first spring to mind when you think of artificial intelligence. But as technology companies like Google and Baidu build labs and pioneer advances in the field, a broader group of industries are beginning to investigate how AI can work for them, too.
Today the industry selling AI software and services remains a small one. Dave Schubmehl, research director at IDC, calculates that sales for all companies selling cognitive software platforms —excluding companies like Google and Facebook, which do research for their own use—added up to $1 billion last year.
He predicts that by 2020 that number will exceed $10 billion. Other than a few large players like IBM and Palantir Technologies, AI remains a market of startups: 2,600 companies, by Bloomberg’s count.
General Electric is using AI to improve service on its highly engineered jet engines. By combining a form of AI called computer vision (originally developed to categorize movies and TV footage when GE owned NBC Universal) with CAD drawings and data from cameras and infrared detectors, GE has improved its detection of cracks and other problems in airplane engine blades.
The system eliminates errors common to traditional human reviews, such as a dip in detections on Fridays and Mondays, but also relies on human experts to confirm its alerts. The program then learns from that feedback, says Colin Parris, GE’s vice president of software research. – Nanette Byrnes