What are the recent trends and challenges in AI and ML?

Last week I was a lucky participant of two conferences: Computing AI and Machine Learning Live and Future of Utilities – Smart energy 2018 .

The first conference had a bigger range of industries covering the whole spectrum of companies from broadcasting to banking. The main focus was on ML and AI and how they can be used in various businesses.It seems companies are at very different stages of adopting these technologies but there is a raising interest in all spheres to get into “ML world”.

 

I was on the panel ‘Application, Value, Risk’ and it turns out most companies have similar challenges with AI and ML:

  • not enough skilled talent;
  • unrealistic expectations from the business;
  • difficulty of identifying clear use cases;
  • lack of good annotated data;
  • difficulties with measuring benefits.

 

Moreover, highly regulated industries like banks, healthcare, utilities face additional challenges. It was agreed that the easiest approach is to start small, with proof of concept, and then communicate often with the business to make sure that there is a very good understanding of what both sides are trying to achieve.

Other highlight of the conference was presentation by Darktrace going deeper into the ways hackers can potentially leverage technology in the future and get more inventive. It was rather concerning thinking that Alexas, many people have at home, can be hacked and used for malicious reasons. Panel discussing ethical aspects of AI and ML was also very interesting. It ended up being quite ‘heated’ when it came to discussing bias and cultural ethical differences. Those topics unfortunately do not currently have easy answers and will be the point of arguments for a long time.

Second conference, Future of Utilities, was more orientated towards utilities businesses and had a representation from many energy companies. This year there was also a raising interest in AI and ML and so I was invited to talk about digital assistants and the way they help our customers get what they are looking for quicker and easier.

Even though conferences targeted different audience there were quite a few key topics that seem to be prevailing in all businesses currently. More and more companies turn to ML and AI when seeking better ways to understand their customers and becoming ‘smarter’ about interactions. Almost in all discussions you can hear ‘pro-active’ and ‘customer orientated’/’customer obsessed’. There is also a fear and at the same time admiration of big giants – Amazon, Google, Netflix. These companies aspire all business to be looking into new ways to interact with their customers who are used to seamless experiences provided by these big players.