In the very near future, the triple A’s — Artificial intelligence, Automation and Additive Manufacturing — will influence nearly every aspect of our lives. Humanity and the quotidian routines that all members of society engage in, from driving our cars to brushing our teeth to caring for our bodies to interacting with our friends and loved ones — will all be intertwined with machine learning capabilities that boost our connectivity and improve our general quality of life.
It’s an exciting time to be alive, and it’s exciting to watch some of the most creative and cutting edge AI companies lead the charge forward to this brave new way of living. There are dozens of emerging companies that are doing exciting things, and as I keep tabs, I believe these are five to watch:
Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Home have trained us to comfortably coexist with virtual assistants who respond at our beck and call. Nearly 10 years ago, though, before any of us had an Alexa on our mantle, SoundHound was collecting data from iPhone and Android devices and honing its audio recognition capabilities. Today, its natural-language-processing, sound-recognition and audio-enabled search capabilities are some of the best on the market, and its own Houndify platform — a genuine challenger to both Alexa and Google Home — has the potential to deliver a genuine blow to both Google and Amazon.
First we had farm-to-table, and then we had organic. Today, there’s a new movement in how we grow the vegetables that nurture our bodies, and Bowery Farming is at the precipice of it. Utilizing indoor farming methods that require zero pesticides and boost sustainability by cutting down on shipping costs, the company harnesses automation, machine learning, and vision systems to monitor and nurture its crops in the most cost- and space-effective manner possible. Arugula, butterhead lettuce, microgreens and basil, all grown in vertical indoor plots without chemicals and with the power of innovation? Oh Kale Yeah.
Take IBM, the Goliath of business computing, and combine it with Watson, their upstart AI project first designed to try and beat Jeopardy! contestants at their own game. What you get is a partnership that gives businesses innovative new methods for mining their data, automating rote tasks and accelerating research and discovery. Watson began as a question-answering system that worked with natural language processing and automated reasoning, but it has since evolved into a full-on system that sits at the razor’s edge of automated intelligence. It can read and hear, interpret ideas and make recommendations. This Watson is so much more than elementary.
The influence of AI on our lives has been described as a revolution, and every revolution needs a leader. Baidu — the most dominant search engine in China and the second-largest in the world — desperately wants that role. The company has given Google a genuine run for its money with Apollo, its cutting-edge self-driving platform, and now as it angles for dominance over the field of autonomous vehicles, Baidu is hoping that it can secure its place at the very forefront of AI innovation across the globe.
In the realm of visual computing, you’d be hard pressed to find a company more exciting than Nvidia. They call their GPU (graphics processing unit) the “visual cortex” of modern computers, and it’s a fitting term. Nvidia has changed the way we view graphics in our computer games, but their influence doesn’t stop at recreation. Cutting-edge science is currently being assisted by Nvidia technology in the form of simulations and critical calculations, and in the white-hot field of self-driving cars, Nvidia is playing a major role by helping to assist drivers, power dashboard systems and more.