Insights · August 20th, 2019

How is Artificial Intelligence Disrupting Industries Across the World?

[Editor note: this is a guest article by Dutch futurist Richard van Hooijdonk. See below for contact information.]

Many innovative technologies have taken the world by storm, and one of the most exciting ones is artificial intelligence (AI). The adoption of AI is no longer a futuristic concept, and this technology is powering many tech solutions that we use on a regular basis. Without even realizing it, we’ve become dependent on these solutions that were created to make our lives easier.

The growth of AI will continue to accelerate in the future. Market Research Engine predicts that the global AI market, including technologies such as machine learning, image processing, natural language processing, and speech recognition, will reach a value of more than $191 billion by 2024. As for global spending on AI systems, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts it will reach $77.6 billion in 2022.

Due to advances in computing, AI is rapidly gaining popularity, and various industries are seeing dramatic improvements in efficiency and quality. And though skeptics warn that AI-powered machines could make humans obsolete, such apocalyptic scenarios won’t happen anytime soon. Instead, AI will help human workers to handle tasks that are complex and time-consuming.

MIT developed an AI model to predict which patients will develop cancer in the future

One of the industries where AI can truly shine is the healthcare sector. In fact, a recent discovery was presented by scientists from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who collaborated with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to develop an AI-based system capable of predicting breast cancer five years in advance.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, and the World Health Organization reports that it affects around 2.1 million women every year. The key in the treatment of breast cancer lies in early detection, but traditional screening used in breast cancer diagnosis isn’t very reliable. This is mainly because these methods follow a one-size-fits-all approach, but thanks to MIT’s discovery, the diagnostic process can be personalized.

The researchers used a deep-learning model and trained it using mammography data from 90,000 of MGH’s patients. Through data analysis, the system detected patterns in breast tissue that aren’t obvious to the human eye, and which could lead to malignant tumours in the future. MIT’s team claims that this tech could be used in detecting other types of cancer as well, such as pancreatic cancer, as well as other conditions like cardiovascular disease. “Our goal is to make these advancements a part of the standard of care,” says Adam Yala, a CSAIL PhD student. “By predicting who will develop cancer in the future, we can hopefully save lives and catch cancer before symptoms ever arise.”

[GH, Editor note: See also the work of Pattern Computer which may leapfrog more traditional machine learning AI approaches for medical diagnosis.]

AI successfully detects potential issues in construction equipment

Besides healthcare, the construction industry can gain a lot from AI, too. AI could solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges, such as project delays and safety issues. Since AI could make construction sites more efficient, it will also help companies to save money. During a construction project, a significant portion of companies’ budgets is spent on equipment repairs, which results in project delays. To address this problem, Newtrax Technologies, a Canadian company providing safety and productivity solutions, used a machine learning algorithm to help one mining company predict maintenance issues on its mobile equipment.

The system relies on data collected by sensors to predict problems up to two weeks in advance. According to International Mining, the innovation already proved its usefulness when it detected an engine problem on one of the company’s vehicles. This way, the company had time to intervene and avoid bigger damage, saving $63,610 in the process.

A mobile app powered by IBM’s AI technology could help solve cities’ traffic congestion

Saving money and time is a good reason to consider AI adoption. The transportation sector is aware of this, and several companies are showing interest in making transportation more AI-driven. For instance, SEAT, a Spanish car manufacturer and subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, partnered with IBM to develop an app named Mobility Adviser. The main goal is to help people who live in congested cities to better navigate around the city and find the most viable transportation options. This tool, which is still a proof of concept, will tell users how to plan and optimize their routes. To recommend the right transportation option, the app will take traffic, weather data, user preferences, and historical data into account.

Mobility Adviser will be built on IBM’s Watson AI platform and will run on 4G and 5G mobile devices. Once developed, this innovation could help cities reduce traffic congestion, which will make commutes easier. As SEAT’s head of new urban mobility concepts, Jordi Caus, observes, “Traffic congestion and environmental challenges are putting huge pressure on cities to transform.” But thanks to IBM’s advanced cloud and AI tech, improving the lives of city-dwellers is achievable, says Caus.

Amazon’s Project Zero leverages AI to detect counterfeit products

Another area where AI can truly shine is retail, and several retailers are making a serious effort to use AI’s transformative potential to their advantage. Take Amazon as an example. In early 2019, it revealed Project Zero, which is based on using machine learning to scan its online stores, detect fake items, and automatically remove them from the website. This is particularly convenient for brands that sell on Amazon’s platform, because earlier, they had to report fake items to Amazon. Now the process is simplified, and this “self-service counterfeit removal tool” is able to detect 100 times more counterfeit items than the previous process. The e-commerce giant has been testing the tech with just a few brands, but it’s planning to add more in the future.

Advances in technology are redefining various industries, and along with automation and robotics, smart algorithms are at the forefront of disruption. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the ‘brain’ of cutting-edge tech solutions designed to manage issues far more efficiently compared to traditional practices. In healthcare, intelligent solutions help diagnose diseases years before the first symptoms appear, in construction, they’re used to detect issues in equipment, while in retail, smart algorithms fight counterfeiting – the applications are virtually endless. Followed by the proliferation of smart solutions, galloping AI trends show no sign of slowing down and are only growing stronger.
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Author: Richard van Hooijdonk

International keynote speaker, trend watcher and futurist Richard van Hooijdonk offers inspiring lectures on how technology impacts the way we live, work and do business. Over 420,000 people have already attended his renowned inspiration sessions, in the Netherlands as well as abroad. He works together with RTL television and presents the weekly radio program ‘Mindshift’ on BNR news radio. Van Hooijdonk is also a guest lecturer at Nyenrode and Erasmus Universities.


Conner-Simons, Adam, and Rachel Gordon,

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Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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