No one will argue that 2020 will go down as one of the most tumultuous, disruptive and unexpected years in recent history. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted the way in which people work and live their lives, but it has shifted the way we interact with the broader society. While the long-term effects are as yet unknown, with remote work and social distancing becoming the new normal, it makes sense that this will make way for innovation within the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
That’s why 2021 promises to be a big year in terms of AI, as it takes center stage in anything from automated detection and prevention to decision making and forecasting. Behind the scenes, technology is percolating, promising to brew up something bigger and better than we have ever known – all born out of a pandemic that has changed every one of our lives. The lessons learned in 2020 will give birth to technologies that can even prevent such outbreaks in the future.
Here’s a look at the AI trends on the horizon for 2021 that will shape our lives, change the way businesses operate and advance civilization by leaps and bounds:
1. Automated Detection and Prevention
Drones certainly won’t be new in 2021, but the ways in which they will be used will go beyond basic surveillance, recreation and package delivery. Right now in many jurisdictions, drones are being developed and tested to monitor whether social distancing guidelines are being followed, says Forbes.
More advanced applications are coming, too, such as the creation of drones that can detect COVID symptoms such as high temperatures of individuals in a crowd. These drones will utilize computer vision technology in order to analyze data that has been captured by cameras with the sole purpose of informing authorities of statistics and probabilities concerning the spread of the virus.
The use of facial recognition technology, powered by computer vision algorithms, is drawing controversy and concern because it involves the identification of individuals instead of patterns among groups. Facial recognition can be used by law enforcement to detect quarantine and lockdown violators, and to track the movements of those who have symptoms within a crowd.
2. Behavioral Transformation Predictions
The way we live, socialize and work has shifted dramatically with the spread of COVID-19. That steady digital trend in the retail space that was already going strong up till March has taken on a warp speed focus. For example, Amazon’s sales during 2020’s second quarter increased by a whopping 40 percent over this same time in 2019. Those who had been shopping online for years upped their orders, while those who had resisted online shopping up till then got in on the game due to lack of options.
AI tools and platforms exist to help businesses understand how their customers are starting to adapt to a new reality, leading many organizations to embrace concepts such as behavioral analytics and personalization. These tools give companies self-service access to this technology, which we will see a lot more of in the next year, particular for small- and medium-sized businesses looking for a competitive edge.
3. Future Outbreak Predictions
Is it possible to shut down the next pandemic before it even starts? If AI has anything to say about it, then yes. AI-assisted epidemiology will begin building out systems that can accurately and effectively predict when and where future viral outbreaks will occur. This research has been in the works for a while, but it’s now up to bat.
AI research will yield further breakthroughs over the next year, boosting our ability to notice and react to the potential danger of outbreaks.
4. AI-Powered Chips
There will be an increased need for processors that are fast enough and powerful enough to process the data necessary for these burgeoning technologies. Today’s CPUs struggle to keep up with the demand in processing speeds necessary to complete activities such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), machine learning and speech recognition. A study by Allied Market Research predicts the AI chip industry will reach more than $100 million in market value by 2025.
This growth is due to the fact that AI-enabled chips can handle the processing speed that CPUs simply can’t. As a result, you will see a lot of companies investing big time in chip development. AI chips allow basic tasks to be completed within mere seconds, and they simplify complicated tasks. Why? AI chips can complete more computations per unit of energy consumed than any CPU can. Plus, they are designed to handle predictive analytics and advanced calculations required by advanced AI algorithms.
5. Decision Making and Forecasting
The World Economic Forum predicts the COVID-19 pandemic will cost between $8.1 and $15.8 trillion globally when all is said and done. This huge loss in global finances will prompt the need for timely, smart, AI-driven decision making tools. Utilizing machine learning and AI, forecasts will be able to accurately predict diverse data sets up to 90 percent. AI-based business forecasting will benefit the following industries:
- Sales forecasting
- Fraud detection
- Medical apps for early detection and diagnosis
- Personal assistants (Alexa, Siri)
- Suicide prevention
- Debt management
- Stock optimization
- Workforce planning
- Demand planning
All of these industries are heavily data-driven, featuring massive data banks. As such, business forecasting can help companies make smarter decisions based on AI-driven information, with the ability to import mass data pertaining to opportunities, sales data, success, win rate percentages, and customer behavior to provide meaningful forecasts that will help businesses make smarter decisions for the future.
Research in the field of AI will receive massive investment heading into 2021, as more and more companies seek a safer, more convenient and more stable future.