Archive for AI

Businesses Set For Augmented Reality

A report based on research by IT Consultancy Group Capgemini has predicted a big shift towards the use of virtual reality and augmented reality by businesses over the next 3 years.

Mainstream Soon

The results of a survey of 700 business executives across multiple sectors show that 46% think that VR and AR technologies will become a major part of their organisation in the next 3 years. Nearly 40% also said that VR and AR would be mainstream in just 5 years.

Based on the findings of its survey, Capgemini thinks that half of all businesses not already using AR and VR technology will start using it as they accept the value-adding and cost-saving benefits that it brings.

Good Results, So Far

The report showed that 82% of businesses already using AR and VR tech said it’s either exceeding or meeting their expectations in terms of can enhancing productivity, efficiency and safety in the workplace.
Driven

The optimism and positive predictions for AR and VR being used by businesses is not just being driven by the positive reinforcement of those who are ready using them, but also by the impressive evolution of immersive technology in a short space time of time.

Relevance?

Some companies may be struggling to see how AR and VR could be applied to their businesses now unless it makes up part of a product, but tech commentators believe that some of the most popular areas where they will be used are in offering remote real-time support to customers and in training staff.

Limitations

Two of the key challenges to the growth of the use of AR and VR by businesses in the UK are a shortage of skilled people (the UK has a tech skills gap) and a shortage of investors.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The results of the Capgemini survey show promise and optimism for AR and VR being used by businesses to add value and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace, in much the same way that AI is being embraced and is producing good results.
It is unfortunate that UK businesses are still facing a challenge to their use of technology for growth because of a skills gap that was exacerbated by Brexit fears. As far as this challenge goes, the UK government, the education system and businesses need to continue to find ways to work together to develop a base of digital skills in the UK and to make sure that the whole tech eco-system finds effective ways to address the skills gap and keep the UK’s tech industries and business attractive and competitive. This can only help to boost AR and VR development in business.

It is also a shame that the UK, which wants to be a technology centre, is also at a disadvantage in terms of investors compared to places such as the US and China. Capgemini suggests that UK businesses can meet this challenge by streamlining investment to seize the long-term growth potential of AR and VR technology. Also, Capgemini’s report suggests that in order to leverage the business value of AR and VR, UK companies should adopt a centralised governance structure, as well as proofs of concept that are aligned with business strategy, and that they should work on employee change management in order to able to drive innovation in these new fields.

Microsoft Introduces AI Automated Audio and Video File Transcription

Microsoft’s new AI tool in OneDrive and SharePoint automatically transcribes the contents of video, audio, and image files, thereby making it much faster and easier to find specific topics and references made in those files.

No More Lengthy Transcribing

The growth of digital content, particularly in rich file types such as image, video, and audio files has made things particularly challenging when trying to search through them to find specific references, details, topics or quotes.

Up until now, it’s been a case of physically watching and listening, and transcribing the file into to text to get what you want.

Also, if you need to track down lost screenshots, snapshots and receipts, or if you have to categorise images by keywording them, or if you’re trying to search for images relating to a certain subject, this too has been a time-consuming challenge, up until now.

Search Through Audio or Video By What’s Said

The new AI-based automatic transcription system that’s been added to OneDrive and SharePoint means that users can now search through audio or video by what’s said in the file, and users can quickly find images by conducting searches using keywords based on the content.

How Does It Work?

According to a post on the Microsoft website by Omar Shahine, Partner Director of Program Management for OneDrive and SharePoint, AI can be used to extract the content from an audio or video file, and provide a full transcript which is shown in a viewer, which supports over 320 different file types.

Where automatic photo transcripts are concerned, native, secure AI is used to determine where photos were taken, recognize objects, and extract text in photos and images.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With the web, email, text / comms and chat apps now being regularly used as part of businesses, and with digital files and rich format files being favoured, used / displayed, swapped / shared and stored, and with the rise of collaborative online working, this new feature could prove very useful to users of OneDrive and SharePoint.

The many benefits it could bring include saved costs and time in searching and having to physically transcribe, helping to leverage existing content and improve productivity, improving accessibility, and making make life a lot easier for anyone who regularly transcribes audio files e.g. content writers, journalists and anyone involved with archiving and categorising different media types. It’s only a matter of time until other technology will be bolted-on to features like this e.g. facial recognition.

Also, for Microsoft this is a feature that can help it to compete in the collaborative working platform market.

Apple’s Autonomous Car Involved in Crash

Apple’s new autonomous vehicle, part of its ‘Project Titan’, has joined an expanding list of self-driving car prangs.

What Autonomous Vehicle?

Apple is reported to have been working on vehicle projects since 2015 under the name of ‘Project Titan’. Ever since the early reports, there has been much speculation about when an iCar will come onto the market.

The evidence, that this would be likely, came in the form of reports of hundreds of Apple employees working on a car project, hints during an interview with CEO Tim Cook back in June 2007, reports of two Apple computer scientists publishing research about a 3D detection system (that could be used in an autonomous car), and in July this year, news that an ex-Apple employee had been charged with stealing trade secrets from Apple to take to a Chinese car start-up.

Apple is also reported to be working with VW on a driverless vehicle to shuttle its employees to and from work.
The Apple car involved in the recent accident is a Lexus SUV that is being used as part of the testing for its autonomous car project.

In Driverless Mode, But Rear-Ended

In this case, even though the Apple autonomous vehicle was in driverless mode at the time, the cause of the crash (last month) is thought to be that the driver of a Nissan Leaf rear-ended the Apple car while it was doing less than 1 mph, trying to find a safe space to merge onto Lawrence Expressway in California.

Most Autonomous Vehicle Crashes Caused By Humans

It’s tempting to think that testing autonomous vehicles on public roads is bound to result in crashes caused by faults with the technology. In fact, the statistics tell a different story and indicate that human error has been the main cause of accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

For example, Axios research shows that only 8% of these types of crashes were caused by a vehicle fault, and only one such crash happened when the vehicle was in autonomous mode. In fact, six out of seven accidents happened while a human was driving, and only one of a total 57 accidents to date involving moving autonomous vehicles was caused by a fault with the AI. One more left-field statistic is that self-driving vehicles have actually been attacked by humans 3 times!

That said, and joking aside, it’s worth acknowledging that there has already been one fatality related to driverless cars. It happened when a woman was hit by a driverless car that was being tested by Uber while she was crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although we may not be entirely convinced yet, or used to the idea of cars, lorries, and even planes operating autonomously on our roads and above our heads, the fact is that all have been tested, and look likely to become a more regular reality. At this time, it is still relatively early days for autonomous vehicles which means that there are still many untapped opportunities to use autonomous vehicles commercially, and there are of course many challenges and issues to consider around safety, insurance, regulations and reliability. For the time being, autonomous vehicles are, therefore, likely to be adopted more quickly on closed sites but operators who decide to adapt such sites to work for autonomy could expect significant improvements in productivity and safety.

As the technology to operate these vehicles becomes more advanced, prices decrease, and technical and operational problems are ironed-out, their potential to add-value to businesses / organisations / cities .e.g. for distribution / logistics, public transport, and many other uses will become apparent. They may also offer cost savings, greater reliability and easier management and planning, which are appealing benefits to businesses.

Diabetes Eye Disease Diagnosing System Needs No Doctors

An AI system for diagnosing eye disease caused by diabetes that has been approved for use in the US works autonomously and doesn’t need a doctor to interpret its results.

New Way To Solve Old Problem

Diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness among adults, is caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye / the retina. The condition affects up to eight out of 10 people who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.

Given the extent of the problem, Google and DeepMind are reported to have been working on building machine-learning algorithms for detecting diabetic retinopathy for some time.

The new AI-based device from Iowa diagnostics company IDx LLC is the first FDA-approved AI system for diagnosing this particular eye disease.

No Doctors Required For Diagnosis

The system can be used to spot the disease i.e. signs of mild diabetic retinopathy in scans of people’s retinas. This would normally be a job that would require human input, and as such, the new device is a first in eye care.

Although the system can diagnose the disease on its own, and therefore, doesn’t require a doctor’s input for diagnosis, it cannot recommend treatment plans, as this requires human doctors.

How Does It Work?

The system uses two convolutional neural networks.

The first one studies and analyses the image quality of retinal scans, from this it can determine if the focus, colour balance, and exposure are good enough to pass the photos to the diagnostic algorithm.

The second stage / network looks for common signs of damage related to the disease e.g. haemorrhages from burst blood vessels which may be caused by unstable blood sugar levels.

From these processes, the system is able to make a diagnosis.

How Accurate Is It?

Given the complicated nature of the medical condition, the accuracy of the system has been tested (using 900 subjects) in terms of its sensitivity, specificity and imageability. The device is reported to have scored 87% sensitivity i.e. identifying patients who have a mild version of the condition, 90% cent specificity i.e. indentifying those with no eye damage, and 96% imageability i.e. a high enough quality of image was generated to achieve a diagnosis.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

AI is being incorporated in more value adding and innovative ways to solve many problems across all industries and sectors, and as such, represents an opportunity for those businesses developing devices and systems with an AI element.

Not only does this device perform an important part of a service that hitherto required expert human input, it also frees up time that the human expert would have spent on diagnosis, thereby allowing valuable medical resources to be extended and allocated elsewhere. This demonstrates how AI can add value, save time / costs, and allow more leverage to be gained from existing services.

We already trust devices / machinery to handle many important aspects of medical care, and with this in mind, there should be no real reason to mistrust the accuracy and fitness for purpose of this system, particularly given that it has been tested, and that there will be human input at the treatment plan stage that may help to spot any errors.

AI in medical care represents an important step into the future that could bring some incredible benefits.

AI, ML & ‘Robot’ Business Spending Will Hit $232bn by 2025 Says Report

A recent KPMG reports claims that whereas business spending on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning(ML) and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies is $12.4bn this year, it will increase to $232bn in 2025.

Ready, Set, Fail?

The report, entitled “Ready, set, fail? Avoiding setbacks in the intelligent automation race” highlights how the potential of AI technology is already being examined by 37% of enterprises, and how its uptake is expected to accelerate over the next three years, with all enterprises using the technology to some extent, 49% of enterprises using it at scale, and 29% using it selectively. Currently, 13% of enterprises are missing out altogether on the opportunity of using AI to add value to their business.

Can’t All Be Like Leading ‘Digital First’ Companies

The report accepts that while most businesses can’t realistically expect to be leading ‘digital first’ companies, such as Amazon with its one-click experience linked to a complex back-end and digital supply chain, they can make good ground from now on by acting quickly, understanding the need for urgency, and defining and executing a comprehensive AI strategy.

What Is Digital First?

A ‘digital first’ / digital by default approach involves giving priority to new media channels and technologies to improve the business by bringing it into line with the needs and behaviours of today’s consumers. It involves adopting a whole new way of looking at the business in order to add the skills, and to change to culture and mindset in order to make it more effective.

What Is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

While many of us are now familiar with the terms artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), the report also focuses on ‘robotic process automation’ (RPA). This refers to an emerging form of business process automation technology that uses software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.

Instead of software developers producing a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application’s graphical user interface (GUI), and then they perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI.

Expectations High But Readiness Low

The KMPG report shows that even though managers’ expectations are high for AI use in their company in the coming years, the readiness to implement AI is low. The reasons for this include the fact that two-thirds of enterprises lack the in-house talent, and half of businesses are still struggling to define goals and objectives for AI.

Also, the 33% of respondents in KPMG’s study said that management are lacking readiness to implement AI because of a concern over AI’s impact on employees.

Investment Available

According to the report, even though readiness is low, the investment needed for intelligent automation is available, and is expected to increase over the next 3 years, with 32% of organisations having approved more funding for robotic process automation, and 40% saying that they will increase spending on artificial intelligence by at least 20% over the next three years.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Artificial Intelligence holds many opportunities for businesses, and those businesses that have moved successfully to a digital first approach appear to be reaping the benefits in terms of competitive advantage and profitability in the modern marketplace.

There are many ways in which businesses can meet high marketplace expectations for AI. These include:

– Long-term planning with a sequence of steps, beginning with prioritised projects that can realise scale in one or two years, with the help of C-level buy-in and sponsorship. This can lead to a successful transformation built on new blueprints and architectures for operating models and business models.
– Taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to automating the service delivery model.
– Taking another look at the whole operating model and how AI can be best adopted and applied to the core business. This involves looking at the operational and technology infrastructure, organisational structure and governance, and people culture. This can be supported by measurement and incentive systems, and implemented in a way that causes minimum disruption to existing business processes.

Now You Can Search eBay Via A Photo

Ebay has launched Image Search in the UK, an AI-based technology that means you can now enter a photo into the search box to help find the product you’re looking for.

Smart Phone Camera Search

With so many of us now using smart-phones, this innovative new feature means that users can take a photo on their phone of a product they’re inspired by and interested in, and use the machine learning technology that’s been added to eBay’s 1.1 billion item catalogue to quickly search for that product.

Technology Push at eBay

This latest addition to eBay’s search is part of a general push by eBay to bolt-on more technologies and forge alliances to increase the reach of its platform and to take the fight to competitors.

For example, eBay recently collaborated with worldwide media and entertainment company for culture and tech ‘Mashable’ so that an eBay widget could be introduced into Mashable. The widget allows Mashable’s audience to see and use a small eBay shop window overlaid on the page, and populated by products that are featured in Mashable articles, thereby allowing people to instantly buy what they they’re reading about. The benefit for eBay (according to eBay) is that eBay’s marketing team will be able to use it to better understand the factors that matter most to buyers making purchases off the eBay platform e.g. seller reputation and delivery time, and to use learned consumer insights from the pilot to deliver scalable solutions that accelerate eBay’s growth.

Smart Search Benefits

The sheer size of eBay’s catalogue means that it can sometimes take a long time for users to find the item they’re looking for, particularly if that item is very difficult to describe. Also, the watching and waiting aspect of eBay, its reputation as an auction site, and its lack of ability to actively engage have appeared to put it slightly at odds with a generation who simply want to quickly find what they’re looking for via their smart-phone, and purchase it. eBay also needed to find a way to get the most out of the vast number of user-generated images and item data that they’d accumulated through the years, and to capitalise on the instant product inspiration that people get e.g. from their social media feeds.

It is believed that the Image Search feature will be able to address all of these challenges, and will allow users to quickly find what they’re looking for while on the move. It may also encourage more seller to take to platform.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is another illustration of how AI / machine learning is being put to practical and value-adding use as a medium for brand / company growth and user convenience. For businesses in retail such as for fashion and apparel, this new feature could bring increased sales and brand recognition, and could help new lines to generate sales rapidly.

For eBay, this innovative search feature could kill many birds with one stone towards the aim of delivering scalable solutions that can accelerate eBay’s growth.

Visual search is a growing trend, particularly in retail e.g. ASOS, Zalando and John Lewis have adopted visual search into their apps to save customers time, to make themselves more socially discoverable, to drive up-sell activity, and to ultimately increase app revenue. Visual search technology is likely to find its way onto many more platforms, retail websites and apps yet.

NHS Booking App and Doc Bot

In the NHS’s 70th year, and as part of the push for digitisation, the introduction of an appointment-booking app has been praised, while a GP chatbot has been given the thumbs-down by The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Book Appointments With A Free NHS App

A free app, due to be launched at the end of this year, will enable NHS patients to make GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions, and access the 111 helpline for urgent medical needs.

The app, which is being jointly developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, and is part of NHS England’s wider strategy to digitise the health service, will be made available through the App Store or Google.

Other Options

As well as booking appointments and ordering prescriptions, the app will also give patients other options such as allowing them to opt-out of sharing their personal information for research and planning purposes across the health service, mark their preferences on organ donation, and register their choices for end-of-life care.

Helpful

Many commentators have praised the idea of the app as something that could provide extra convenience to patients e.g. reducing the 8am scramble for GP appointments, and take some of the increasing load off some areas of the NHS.

Security Caution

Some commentators have stressed the need to ensure that the security, reliability, and the identity verification processes of the app are of the highest international security standards in order to protect the personal details and medical history of patients.

Big No for Doc App

While the NHS appointment-booking app has been receiving cautious praise, the new Babylon AI chatbot that can diagnose medical conditions (and offer health advice based on what users tell it) got the thumbs-down at an event held by The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Accuracy?

One of the main aspects of the bot that upset physicians were claims by Babylon that the bot has achieved medical exam scores of the same level as or higher than a human doctor. The company says that according to its robust testing program, which includes relevant sections of the MRCGP exam, which is the final test for a trainee GP, Babylon’s AI bot’s average pass mark was 81%. This mark is higher than the 72% average pass mark achieved by real doctors over the past five years.

These claims have been disputed by RCGP, which has stressed the point that no app or algorithm is able to do what a GP does.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Apps are being used in useful and value-adding ways in so many other sectors, it is no surprise that they are being developed for healthcare, and with the purpose of taking some of the burden off the NHS. For most people, the NHS is s trusted organisation anyway, and an app that can essentially perform administrative functions, such as booking appointments, sounds as though it could be very useful. The trust that many have in the NHS may also be enough to minimise security concerns. One criticism may be, however, that it may exclude the older members of society, many of whom are regular users of NHS services.

Even though an AI app may be able to pass theoretical exams (such as the Babylon AI app) getting people to trust it to make a diagnosis and then health suggestions, particularly when it has been criticised by real doctors, may be a step too far at the current time. That particular app company, however, has faced criticism in the past over its ‘GP at Hand’ app for the NHS, which allows patients at five London clinics to consult with their GP via a video call. The RCGP criticised it for cherry-picking patients, and leaving GPs to deal with the most complex patients without sufficient resources.

Either way, the NHS is committed to digitising some aspects of its services, and in introducing technology, a balance needs to be struck between adding real value in a fair way to all, while not being to the detriment of any NHS users and practitioners.

Bank Uses AI To Screen Job Applicants

A Singapore bank is reported to be using an AI-based system to make savings in the process of recruitment by automating the pre-screening of job applicants.

‘JIM’

The new AI screening platform, Jobs Intelligence Maestro (JIM) has been part of a pilot scheme that has been running at the DBS bank in Singapore since April.

JIM has been developed by Singapore start-up Impress.AI and DBS’ Talent Acquisition team, and has been used to support staff in the sometimes lengthy process of reviewing CVs, collecting responses to pre-screening questions, and conducting psychometric tests.

Savings

The main reason for the development of JIM is to save man-hours, to lighten the workload of the bank’s recruiters, and to enable the recruitment process to fit in more easily with the schedules of candidates who may be busy in normal office hours.

Wealth-Management Planning Roles

The AI system is intended to be used for screening candidates for wealth management planning roles in the bank in its main markets of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and India. This will enable the bank to meet its target of target 40% growth in staff advising its high net worth customers.

High-Volume Roles

JIM will also be used in other ‘high-volume’ roles within the bank, such as the bank’s management associate and graduate associate programmes, where more than 7,000 candidates can apply for 20 just roles.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Up until now, banks have made the news for using AI bots to make savings in the customer service side of the business. Once again, but in a different role, AI is being deployed to essentially make savings in man-hours, and to enable the 24-hour provision of a service.

JIM the AI program is being used in a supporting, time-saving, pre-screening role, and it is in these types of roles that AI is making in-roads into the world of business, and providing cost savings for those companies / organisations that can afford to and need to deploy them to add real value areas of their business e.g. for high-volume, intelligent processing work.

Automation using AI-based systems is likely to be an increasing trend, and back in 2017 the EU even voted to give a Bill of Rights to ‘robots’ that will give them “electronic personhood” status in the eyes of the Law in anticipation of a new kind of industrial robot revolution.