A new cognitive era: The rise of machine intelligence

Posted by Rajeev Ronanki July 13, 2017

Artificial intelligence (AI) has long been the technology of the future – and the future is fast approaching. As AI matures to become an imminent force of change, in its shadows, machine intelligence (MI) is already enabling organizations to quickly reap the benefits of emulated human intelligence through targeted applications. MI and AI aren’t so different – where AI broadly tries to emulate general human reasoning, MI specializes in the applying human logic and reasoning to specific tasks and processes. Deloitte’s eighth Tech Trends report reveals that machine intelligence (MI) is a trend to watch in 2017. MI will likely become omnipresent as three primary forces converge – the same factors paving the way for ubiquitous AI:

Exponential data growth: The digital universe is doubling in size every 12 months (Dan Vesset and David Schubmehl, “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide big data, business analytics, and cognitive software 2017 predictions,” International Data Corp., December 2016) and will likely grow more rapidly as new signals are captured from new sources of data like social media, the Internet of Things, and dark data. These volumes of structured and unstructured data are critical to the advancement of MI. As MI-enabled systems consume more data, they can enable smarter decision making through the discovery of previously hidden relationships and patterns. In addition to the growth of data itself, advances in storage, retention, and access of data make MI more accessible than ever.

Faster distributed systems: Over the past sixty years, there has been a trillion fold increase in computing performance (Stone, Maddie. “The Trillion Fold Increase In Computing Power, Visualized.” Gizmodo. Gizmodo.com, 24 May 2015. Web. 22 June 2017). As a result of this tremendous growth in computing power, smart phones today are more powerful than the computers that put man on the moon. Beyond increases in sheer computing power, low unit cost of computing as well as options to minimize technology investments through cloud computing are enabling us to harness large volumes of complex data. This access to powerful computing at historically low costs is rapidly augmenting machine intelligence.

Smarter algorithms: Exponentially greater access to data and computing power have enabled us to test out and continuously evolve algorithms, improving their accuracy and our ability to closely emulate human cognition. Today, these algorithms are powerful enough to translate human texts, win at games of skill, discern faces in photographs, recognize words in speech, pilot drones, and drive cars. Deloitte’s Tech Trends report predicts several algorithm capabilities will see broader adoption in the public and private sectors as MI use emerges over the next 18 to 24 months.

Organizations can benefit greatly by taking a targeted and solution-based approach to harness the power of these technological advancements. The proliferation of machine intelligence enabled by these advancements helps organizations move from retrospective decision-making to proactive, predictive, and prescriptive decision-making. This journey to transform an organization into one that puts smarter insights into action that automate tasks, influence behaviors, and enhance decision making represents the beginning of a new cognitive era.

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