- AI is on the verge of transforming daily life for millions of people, both at work and at home.
- From driverless cars to machines that can converse with humans, advances once considered science fiction are about to become commonplace.
- Companies that are poised to take advantage of these changes have the potential to reap new profits, and provide investors with opportunities that few could have imagined a decade ago
Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the most transformative and disruptive advancement since the Industrial Revolution. After decades of hype and disappointment, AI is poised to fuel the next wave of innovation, and potentially provide unprecedented opportunities for companies and investors.
Can machines think? That’s the question Alan Turing posed in 1950. Turing, an English scientist, is considered by many to be the father of computer science and a key figure in AI.
Today, the answer to his question is getting closer to yes, depending on how you define thinking. But during the past few years huge strides have been made toward machines that can figure things out without being told what to do. Machines are using reason, logic and experience — and tons of data — in ways that are remarkably human and, for some, alarming.
These machines are already transforming manufacturing, transportation, health care and hundreds of other elements of daily life on both personal and industrial levels. They are in use in schools, homes, hospitals and cars, and they are changing the way the world works.
For some, machines are a threat, especially to jobs. But AI also has the potential to improve the standard of living around the globe, provide companies with new profit opportunities and reward investors.
“There are periods of fundamental change that can transform the way we live and work,” says portfolio manager Rob Lovelace. “Today it seems as if we are in the middle of another revolution, and clearly these changes pose significant challenges and opportunities for long-term investors.”
AI has been around as a scientific concept since the 1950s, going through several periods of boom and bust. The term refers to a collection of technologies that enables computers to simulate elements of human thinking. But for years, computers have had to be programmed in painstaking detail.
Things have changed. Through “machine learning,” a subset of AI, computers can learn from data without being explicitly programmed. They can teach themselves by analysing massive amounts of data from the web, smartphones and other internet-connected devices. Also, processing power has soared. Nearly everything online involves machine learning. Netflix, for example, uses it to recommend movies.
Recently, deep learning has taken AI to the next level. Deep learning is a type of machine learning that uses artificial neural networks that loosely mimic how brains work. A machine can now train itself to perform tasks, such as speech or image recognition, without being programmed to do so. Rather than having to be spoon-fed information for every eventuality, machines can analyse vast amounts of data using layers of artificial neural networks.
Whether that’s thinking or not, machines can now figure many things out for themselves.
Artificial intelligence makes the next great leap
AI may be the most disruptive change since the industrial revolution