Is AI a friend or a foe to industry?
Back in 1984, we marvelled at the special effects that brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the big screen in Terminator as a time travelling cyborg, out to kill Sarah Connor, future mother of the leader of the resistance (John Connor) against the machines in the future, before he could be conceived. August 29 1997 would come to be known as Judgement Day, when a military network of computers – Skynet – gained artifical consciousness. Panicked operators would try to deactivate it, which Skynet would perceive as a threat, and initiate a nuclear strike against Russia to trigger a global nuclear war, all but wiping out civilisation. The remaining humans would form a resistance, led by John Connor, taking the fight to the machines with the goal of toppling Skynet.
Happily, nothing like Skynet came to pass in 1997. The closest we came to artificial intelligence were some nifty chess playing computers which could occasionally beat human grand masters in a battle of board game strategy. And an emerging internet was still a long way from being the vehicle for an AI threat. Fast forward to August 2017, though, and Facebook gave the world a scare when it connected two AI computers together, and subsequengly announced that it had had to pull out the plug when it realised they had invented their own language that none of the engineers was able to understand or follow.
Artificial intelligence has become the buzzword in the automation industry in the 2010s that fuzzy logic was in the 1990s. Every day we hear about a new AI module, or application, or algorithm that is driving a new way of working or enabling processes to be optimised. Beyond science fiction, is it something we should be worried about? Well, according the most recent survey (see page 6), SMEs aren’t overly concerned about the threat of AI to jobs, and don’t see it changing their investment patterns. So what can we expect?
In a white paper that sets out to demystify the use of artificial intelligence in industrial settings, Technical Associates Group highlights how the use of AI is helping manufacturers to make sense of streams of data produced by Internet of Things-enabled systems, enabling them to spot problems with machinery before they lead to failure and downtime. And AI is supporting the development of greener buildings, where self-regulating heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) respond to changing factors such as the number of people in a room, therefore maximising energy efficiency.
Despite its potential, the complexity of AI can make it an impenetrable subject, so the white paper highlights several real-world applications across key industrial sectors, looking at how these advances are transforming traditional business models. You can download a free copy of the white paper at www.ta-marcom.com/news/new-ai-whitepaper-march-of-the-machines.aspx.
Mark Simms Editor