Artificial intelligence crossed a new frontier this month as NASA discovered two new planets using Google AI software. The two planets, located in a system with eight known planets, were discovered by analyzing Kepler space telescope technology using the same type of AI image detection techniques used in today’s face recognition software. By training a neural network with 15,000 signals representing known planets, NASA was able to teach Google’s AI software to spot new planets. Google plans to release the software to the public later this year.
NASA’s partnership with Google illustrates just how far artificial intelligence has advanced in recent years. Here’s a look at some of the latest artificial intelligence trends and what they indicate about where AI is heading in the near future.
The Dawn of Mobile On-device AI
One of the most important recent trends in artificial intelligence is the rise of AI apps that run directly on mobile devices. Traditionally, AI requires a large amount of computing power, restricting use to on-premise data centers or remote cloud resources. But as the power of mobile processors has increased, it has become possible to run AI apps directly on smartphones. For instance, Qualcomm’s new Artificial Intelligence platform, incorporated into the latest Snapdragon processors, is powerful enough to run AI-dependent applications such as smart camera recognition, background noise detection and elimination and biometric face recognition.
The emergence of on-device AI is part of a broader trend toward edge computing AI applications. University of Waterloo researchers are currently experimenting with an innovative approach to artificial intelligence that aims to eliminate AI’s dependence on the cloud. By placing AI programs in a virtual environment and then gradually reducing the amount of resources available, researchers are training AI to adapt to running on lower computing power. This research is intended to increase AI’s functionality for smartphones as well as other edge devices such as robots and drones.
AI as the New UI
One consequence of rising mobile use of artificial intelligence is that AI voice control is becoming the new user interface, taking over many functions previously performed by keyboards and touch pads. Technologies such as Alexa have already introduced AI virtual assistants to the general public. As AI-powered natural language processing technology continues to become more sophisticated and widespread, it will gradually promote a paradigm shift toward voice-centered user interfaces.
As AI becomes the predominant user interface, it will take on three major roles, predicts Accenture AI expert Nicola Morini Bianzino. One is curating relevant information based on users’ previous behavior. Another is advising user behavior with an eye toward some desired outcome. A third is orchestrating actions across multiple channels to achieve desired outcomes. The practical consequences of this will be enormous. AI has the potential to double economic growth rates in developed economies by 2035, Accenture estimates.
Harnessing AI to Quantum Computers
One of today’s most promising areas of artificial intelligence research is the effort to integrate AI with quantum computers that can perform calculations exponentially faster than today’s computers. While traditional computers rely on binary information storage where a bit can have one of two states, quantum computers can store information in superpositional “qubits” that have more than two possible states. IBM recently announced that it has developed a quantum computer that can handle 50 qubits, powerful enough to outperform conventional supercomputers. This would be significantly faster than current quantum computers, which already run 100 million times faster than laptops. IBM is also offering 20-qubit quantum computing services to its clients.
On-device AI, voice-controlled user interfaces and the merger of AI with quantum computing are three of the cutting-edge trends in artificial intelligence today. As these trends continue to advance, AI will continue to become more accessible from mobile devices, more user-friendly and more powerful.