They say that 2020 will be the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and for good reason. Applied Artificial Intelligence is a technological innovation that has been gaining in importance in our society. And following the COVID-19, it has accentuated much more the way that Spanish companies work, increasingly offering new experiences that enable them to innovate and surprise their employees and customers.
There is no doubt that one of the consequences of the Internet and global interconnection through the network is the enormous volume of information we can access. We are clearly in the Digital Age, because in the 21st century, because the Internet and data are synonymous with Big Data and AI. Today, 85% of the population over the age of 13 accesses the Internet intensively, and everything they do is recorded and classified in that virtual space. The impact of massive data management is of such a magnitude that it is now referred to as the new oil; the impact generated by the knowledge extracted from the information obtained from the data is overwhelming.
The trend is growing: the number of connected devices is growing, from security and traffic cameras installed in streets and buildings to smart watches. Industries that capture the movement of workers and materials in factories for image analysis, people who use sensors to log the amount of time they sleep, autonomous vehicles that travel without a human driver and generate millions of data a day, drivers how provide GPS feedback from their automobiles to indicate accidents and traffic situations are just some of the significant examples of data generation in which society is immersed on a global scale. Massive data generation is growing exponentially and is the hallmark of our era, and data availability is its flagship.
In a society like today’s, in which AI is booming, the applicability of Machine Learning is becoming a powerful business tool for extracting knowledge from data and gaining a competitive edge. Applied Artificial Intelligence is needed today by businesses in multiple economic sectors (industry, education, healthcare, marketing, automotive, banking, services sector, etc.) if they want to grow and consolidate themselves over the competition, obtaining applied knowledge from the different algorithms used by Artificial Intelligence for data processing. The automation of these processes will accelerate the strategic and business decisions of each of the companies that incorporate these mechanisms in their decision making.
Speaking of Artificial Intelligence applied through Machine Learning, from the point of view of innovation, has only increased in recent months within the context of the COVID-19 health crisis. But how is this technology helping to fight the pandemic? Combining Machine Learning algorithms with other technologies is making it possible to track and detect possible virus carriers, and AI techniques associated with image processing is providing help in different types of tests, such as analyzing chest x-rays or using smart glasses with AI technology to detect people with low-grade fevers in large groups of people, just to name a few examples.
It is impossible to ignore the contribution of AI in the search for a cure in the health crisis caused by COVID-19, and AI is being used as an observation and prediction agent. But has it really been key in its prevention? I believe the truth is more complicated. AI through Machine Learning techniques makes it possible to analyze historical data in order to detect variables that predict certain events, states or patterns, although there is always an obstacle: data quality and availability for processing. Pandemics are not frequent occurrences, so in order for the data models to be truly effective, there would need to be broad, varied and well-structured samples to obtain sufficient examples of historical data, which are difficult to obtain even today. From that point of view, I believe that its effectiveness today has not been what was expected.
The terms Machine Learning and AI are here to stay. They are repeated constantly in any business segment, due especially to new technologies driving a digital transformation in the companies, the volume of data generated is growing at a dizzying rate and technological advances are making it possible to provide storage, calculation, development and process implementation capabilities that are far superior to what they were a few years ago, thanks to innovation in that technology.
“Data is the natural resource of the 21st century, and some companies that have been in the market for a long time do not actually realize how much data they have generated and that could be analyzed to create new opportunities, not only for business but also for innovation.” (Ginny Romettry).