Much of what we are about to discuss next has already come to pass in their preliminary forms, but what the world will see in the coming years would be the result of the same tech maturing and evolving into something much greater than its predecessors. Artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning, despite the slight differences between the three, is going to act as one and bring about massive changes that will impact nearly all aspects of modern life. As to what they can be, let’s go through some established facts and intelligent speculations next to find out.
Admittedly, the use of AI in preventing cybercrimes is a double-edged sword, given that it can and is already being used by hackers as well. However, that has always been the situation with every major invention, ever since the dawn of inventions. AI is a tool, albeit an intelligent one, and how a man ends up using it is as unpredictable as humanity itself. Nevertheless, AI integration into cybersecurity has already proven to be the most effective method for providing reliable protection against various types of cybercrime before they can happen. As the technology develops further, it might be possible to prevent or catch nearly all instances of cybercrime.
As far as offline security is concerned, that’s where hardware and software can work together in the near future. We are used to seeing private drones flying around in multiple places in US cities, rural areas, and near military facilities, but they have not yet been implemented as tools of public safety. There are questions of privacy to consider, of course, which is why we may not see police drones flying above head at night, patrolling the city for the sake of public safety anytime soon. However, it is not impossible to do so, even with the present generation of available technology.
The military has been using unarmed drones to monitor tense locations outside of the US for many years now, and the same technology can be used internally by the peacekeeping departments as well. In time, and when AI-powered drones do begin to survey streets and dark corners for signs of illegal activity, it might be possible to both discourage and prevent a lot of crimes from even taking place.
Self-Driving Passenger Cars
An Uber or Lyft cab without a human driver behind the wheels can be a strange and scary concept to grasp, but that might not be as far away from becoming a reality as most of us believe! According to Elon Musk, we could be seeing fully automated, self-driving passenger vehicles by the end of 2021. Even if that sounds a little too optimistic, the release of several Level 4 intelligent passenger cars is not out of the question for this year. In the not-so-distant future, it is possible that Uber and Lyft will launch driverless cabs on at least some routes. For those with the budget to afford autonomous vehicles, they can already own Level 3 private vehicles, which are perfectly capable of driving themselves around with only some occasional attention from the driver. When Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles begin to become commonplace in a few years’ time, the impact of the simultaneous automobile revolution will be tremendously felt across multiple industries, as well as by the general population.
Changes in the Job Scene for Automotive Engineers
Autonomous vehicles will have two primary effects on automotive engineering. First of all, there will be a surge in demand and a consequent hike in pay for the few automotive engineers with the necessary knowledge to work with autonomous vehicles. In a few years’ time though, professionals without the necessary training and education to work with the new, intelligent cars, will find it increasingly difficult. At this point, career stagnation is likely.
In fact, as you can see here, this is part of what Dr. Diane Peters (Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at KU) points out while discussing a need for making changes in engineering education. A wider pool of knowledge with a better understanding of electrical engineering and computer engineering will become the new standard to which automotive engineers will be held. Especially within the commercial segment, where automation is so intricately connected with almost everything now, traditional automobile engineers will have to update their present base of knowledge and retrain themselves to augment the gaps in their knowledge.
Smart Robotics Will Become the Norm in Commercial Segments Sooner
Walmart has already started establishing new routes for their autonomous trucks in three states, as of 2021. Of course, the routes are still very few and they are not particularly long either, but 2021 will be the first year when unmanned box trucks from the retail giant will be making completely autonomous trips to and from their facilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Orleans.
AI-powered, mobile equipment is already at work in mining areas, making the miner’s job a lot safer than it used to be. There is always a much lower chance of accidents underground when miners do not have to depend on their guts alone to know where the roof may fall off, or the floor may give in.
In the manufacturing and packaging industries, the biggest impact of smart robotics has been observed so far. Robotic arms were already here decades before AI was ever brought out of pop culture. However, with the introduction of smart software and adequately engineered, highly efficient robotic parts, industrial robots can now work faster, better, and with more improvisation than could have been possible to imagine even a few years ago. Industrial robotics has already attained new heights, thanks to smart software to guide them, so it will be interesting to see how they impact the world in a few years’ time when the machine learning process will begin to show its true capabilities.
The bottom line is, although much of he rush is about autonomous cars in the public segments, the latest tech will be adopted, incorporated, and taken advantage of by the industrial players a lot sooner. A few more years and the results could turn out to be truly remarkable.
The Role of AI Will be Crucial in Finding Vaccines Faster
The vaccines against covid-19 were developed in remarkable time, but millions still died in the time in between. New strains of the coronavirus, which may or may not be immune to the vaccines, are being observed, studied, and worked upon by researchers even today. The hope is, by the time any of these new strains can pose the threat of becoming another epidemic, better vaccines will be made available.
Now, what a lot of us are not even aware of is the role that artificially intelligent software played in helping researchers find the new vaccines, as well as the roles which it will continue to play with increasing efficiency. While the exact roles are way too complex and vast to discuss here, the main advantages of using artificial intelligence in the research for coronavirus vaccines can be highlighted as shown below:
- With the help of smart algorithms, researchers were able to identify and study the viral proteins specifically needed for their work
- The algorithms were running hundreds of thousands of combinations per second to find the necessary matches; something that would have taken a lot more time to do manually, or even via older-gen software resources
- AI helped in identifying the spike protein, which is the one responsible for triggering a severe immune response
- Due to the rapidly mutating nature of the coronavirus that was surprisingly fast, even for a virus, only constantly learning software could keep up with those mutations in real-time
There are of course, still limitations to what AI can and cannot do to help doctors and scientists invent vaccines, but that’s precisely why machine learning is so unique. It allows the software core to learn constantly and the limits of today will not be there in a few months’ time after the intelligent software manages to gather enough data related to the specific problems. A combination of human and machine intelligence is the biggest weapon humanity has against epidemics and pandemics that may break out in the future as well.
Now that we have taken a look at some of the multiple aspects in which AI already has and will continue to impact the world, this also leads us to the question; will it all be for the better, or are there repercussions of an actively evolving intelligence that we are not even considering at this point? Some jobs will be lost in the manual labor segment, but more will be created for those with the technical know-how to keep pace with changing times. In due time, any job that does not really need sapient intelligence to be completed could be taken over by automated processes, which might lead to unemployment in at least some segments. It remains to be seen whether that really turns out to be the situation and how the new world manages to deal with it, if and when that time comes.