Jon Walker covers broad trends at the intersection of AI and industry for Emerj. He has reported on politics and policy issues for news organizations including National Memo, Massroots, NBC, and is a published science fiction author.
Articles by Jon
In the past decade the number of people killed by natural disasters each year has ranged from as low as 14,389 in 2015 to as high as 314,503 in 2010, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Every year over 100,000,000 people are also affected by natural disasters. Government, companies, and aid organizations are all working to keep these tragic deaths as low as possible. One tool they have turned to for help in recent years is search and rescue robots.
The amount of data companies have on customers and the number of channels customers are using to interact with businesses have grown significantly in the past decade. Artificial intelligence may hold great promise in optimizing customer and client interactions.
Mining is a major worldwide industry producing everything from coal to gold. According to a PWC annual report, the top 40 mining companies have a market capitalization of $748 billion as of April 2017. The industry as a whole saw a slump in 2015 but since then the sector has recovered due to rising commodity prices.
Food processing is one of the major manufacturing sectors in the United States. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 16 percent of the value of shipments from all U.S. manufacturing plants comes from food processing plants. These plants employ around 1.5 million workers in this country.
Both artificial intelligence and robotics have been improving over the past few years. Large companies are betting billions that in the near future we will have cars that can drive themselves, drones that can fly themselves to deliver packages, automatic fast food chefs, AI personal assistants, manufacturing robots that can train themselves and other robots, etc.
For most people, the direct impact of improvements in weather forecasting may seem to be that it simply makes vacation planning easier, but even smallest advancement in predicting the weather can produce massive improvements for businesses and governments.
Our cities, streets, homes, and businesses are built for beings that walk on two legs (biped). From stairs to the shape of hallways to the placement of kitchen cabinets, all have been designed for bipeds. The fact that a society of two-legged creatures designed everything around them for bipeds is so obvious most people don’t even think about it, but it becomes a serious issue when talking about the future of robotics.
Several car makers predict they will able to make true self-driving cars in the next few years - as we've covered in our recent self-driving car timeline article. This technology, though, is only valuable if there are plenty of roads these self-driving cars are legally allowed to travel on. Even if the technologies allow for true autonomy, without legal permission the self-driving cars are mostly worthless to individuals and companies.
While in previous decades military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were very simple pieces of equipment, the technology has advanced rapidly. They are now used all over the world and are a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the Teal Group, current worldwide military UAV production stands at around $2.8 billion, and they project it will grow to $9.4 billion in 2025.
Major companies including GE, Siemens, Intel, Funac, Kuka, Bosch, NVIDIA and Microsoft are all making significant investments in machine learning-powered approaches to improve all aspects of manufacturing. The technology is being used to bring down labor costs, reduce product defects, shorten unplanned downtimes, improve transition times, and increase production speed.
The market for military robotics is massive, and many developments can be observed in public competitions, university campuses, and DARPA's own announcements.
Artificial Intelligence is currently being deployed in customer service to both augment and replace human agents - with the primary goals of improving the customer experience and reducing human customer service costs. While the technology is not yet able to perform all the tasks a human customer service representative could, many consumer requests are very simple ask that sometimes be handled by current AI technologies without human input.
The precipitous drop in the price of drones and the intelligent guidance systems that power them has created a broad range of commercial applications (we covered industrial drone applications in a previous article). One use-case that has captured popular attention and large scale investment from a variety of retailers and start ups is autonomous delivery vehicles.
Thanks to the relative ease with which local governments can now gather real time data, combined with the capabilities of artificial Intelligence, cities are realizing interesting new ways to run more efficiently and effectively.
While self-driving trucks and self-driving cars make use of much of the same technology to power their AI systems, it would be a mistake to think the expected roll out date of both developments to would be identical. Their similarities can easily mask their significant differences.
Just as car companies are betting big that self-driving vehicles will change our roads, shipping companies are making a similar bet that automation will change how we move goods around the world. For autonomous ships, the open ocean may prove to be more fertile ground for the adoption of full automation than crowded city streets.
Siri and Alexa have now become household names in America, Xiaoice has been an digital friend to million in China since 2014, and the term “chatbot” has been a buzzword for nearly two years.
High costs and technical limitations kept the uses of drones relatively limited until recently. After significant excitement starting around 2012, the FAA's 2016 adoption of regulations - combined with the drop in price - has made drones an economically viable option for a broad range of commercial functions.
Burger flipping is often used as derogatory shorthand for low-skilled, low-tech work, but fast food companies have been making major investments in automation, apps, analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics. We set out to ask the questions that business leaders would need to know:
In a global market that makes room for more competitors by the day, some companies are turning to AI and machine learning to try to gain an edge. Supply chain and inventory management is a domain that has missed some of the media limelight, but one where industry leaders have been hard at work developing new AI and machine learning technologies over the past decade.