What will AI capabilities be like in five years?

The exponential growth of artificial intelligence capabilities renders any concrete predictions about its progression in a decade’s time risky – but what will the AI landscape look and feel like in the nearer distance, say in handful of years?

By 2024, business leaders will need to have engaged with AI, or face extinction, warns Dr Jacqui Taylor, chief executive and founder of trailblazing web science company Flying Binary, and smart cities advisor to the government. “Within the next five years every single sector will begin to use machine learning, AI and deep learning,” she says. “The organisations that will benefit the most are those that realise that the tech is not the outcome; it is the enabler.”

Randy Dean, chief business officer at Launchpad.ai, agrees, and believes that voice technology, in particular, will be catalysed by AI in the next five years. “Improvements in targeting, servicing, predicting outcomes and general efficiency will all be derived from the application of AI to enterprise use-cases,” he forecasts.

“We will see a great deal of work on the voice-computer interface as more and more interactions are driven by voice and require the understanding of human intent. AI will need to be increasingly effective in understanding different tones of voice, accents and colloquialisms in order to derive intent and deliver valuable outcomes.”

The next five years will see boundaries between real and fictional blurred

An Oracle survey conducted among global finance leaders, and published in January, showed a “whopping” 89 per cent of finance professionals are yet to use AI in their work, points out John Abel, Oracle’s vice principle of cloud and innovation in the UK and Ireland.

He posits “advances in virtual assistants and deep learning will foster wider adoption of AI”, and continues: “By 2021, more than 50 per cent of enterprises will be spending more per annum to create bots and chatbots than on traditional mobile app development. We can expect this number to grow rapidly in the next five years, as employers look to make work more enjoyable and engaging.”

AI pioneer Andrew Ng has said: “If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.” But in the next five years? Possibly, according to Marko Balabanovic, chief technology officer of Digital Catapult.

“On the near horizon we expect increasing use of the camera and the microphone as inputs for computer systems,” he says. “The rapidly increasing ability of AI systems to recognise what’s happening in audio and video streams means we’ll increasingly be able to create cheap systems.

“These will be capable of a whole host of things, from maintaining quality control in manufacturing, diagnosing medical scans, automatically handle natural conversations for customer service, helping the blind navigate and even providing recipes by looking at the contents of a fridge.”

Mr Balabanovic adds: “Within five years we expect complex blurring of the real and virtual: realistic AI characters will populate our entertainment, act as assistants in workplaces and homes and clinical settings, chat with us over our 5G phones and enable new industries to emerge. We expect planet-scale, location-based massively populated augmented reality experiences.”

Are you ready?