January 10, 2017

Emergent // Future: Looking Back, Looking Forward, and the Shape of Things to Come

Emergent Future: the year in artificial intelligenceIssue 36
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming... In the
last issue of 2016, we looked at self-driving cars, Zuckerberg's AI assistant, and what's new with IoT, drones, and chat bots

This week, we recap the year in artificial intelligence before looking ahead to what 2017 holds for AI, data science, and the shape of things to come

Plus, we check out the latest White House report on Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy

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Looking Back

Let’s take a minute to reflect on the top artificial intelligence stories from last year before looking ahead to what’s on the horizon:

The year started with Marvin Minsky passing away at 88 in January. Minsky was a pioneer and a founding father of artificial intelligence and cognitive science.

In March, Google DeepMind's AlphaGo beat world champion Lee Sedol in Go. Machines have now topped the best humans at chess, Scrabble, Othello, and Jeopardy!

Then, a team from Microsoft, ING, and the Delft University of Technology were able to use deep learning to create a 3D-printed imitation Rembrandt painting based on the master’s style in April.

Google revealed its TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) in May, a hardware accelerator for its TensorFlow deep learning algorithm.

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft formed a partnership in September to advance the public understanding of artificial intelligence.

Self-driving taxis became reality when autonomous Uber’s hit the streets of Pittsburgh in September.

Facebook laid out its AI and machine learning strategy in November, while Google’s AI translation tool invented its own language.

In December, OpenAI and Google DeepMind open sourced their AI training platforms for researchers and developers to experiment with.

And, Google spun off its self-driving car unit as a new company within Alphabet called Waymo.

2016 was also a watershed year for autonomous vehicles, with BMW, Intel, Mobileye, Uber, Volvo, Ford, Delphi, and others all having set 2021 as the year by which steering wheels become optional.

Bloomberg asked several technology investors and entrepreneurs what happened in 2016 that nobody noticed. The responses won’t surprise Emergent // Future readers, but the experts’ answers ranged from machine learning-related chips to digital currencies climbing to a $14.9B market cap to the internet speeding up.

Looking Ahead

The future can be hard to predict, so let’s take a survey of what the Technorati are saying:

The White House On AI ✨

In October, the the Obama Administration released a report on artificial intelligence and society.

They've now released a new report on the ways that artificial intelligence will transform our economy over the coming years and decades.

They're predicting nearly all truck, taxi, and delivery driver jobs will be automated.

In essence, while artificial intelligence could cost millions of jobs, the White House says we need more of it, and recommends an increase in education and training for jobs likely to thrive in an increasingly automated future—specifically science, technology, engineering, and math.

What We're Reading

  • Can large-scale solar power storage become a reality? An unexpected finding by a team of engineers could lead to a revolutionary change in how we produce, store and consume energy. (Stanford)
  • Alexa, Amazon's Operating System. Amazon is building the operating system of the home — its name is Alexa — and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect. (Stratechery)
  • Finding A Voice. Computers have got much better at translation, voice recognition and speech synthesis, says Lane Greene. But they still don’t understand the meaning of language. (The Economist)
  • Our Automated Future. How long will it be before you lose your job to a robot? (The New Yorker)
  • Elon Musk: Too Crazy to be Lucky. We can quantifiably say that Elon Musk has been the best tech entrepreneur of the modern era. (Pando)

Things To Try At Home

Emergent Future is a weekly, hand-curated dispatch exploring technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come. Subscribe here.

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Matt Kiser

Matt Kiser

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