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Top AI trends to expect in manufacturing, agriculture and government

By this point everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, and they should be. Over the past decade AI has made some impressive advances from smart assistants such as Siri to Google officially unveiling its autonomous car program. IBM’s Watson computer even beat the two highest-earning American game show contestants of all time at Jeopardy! on prime-time television. With all these advances, what can we expect this year and in the coming decade?

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, technologies that incorporate AI and automation are maturing at an incredibly rapid rate across some industries. Consider robots that harvest plants and fruits. Think about automation in the distribution process for famous apparel brands. Media companies are even using AI at the local and national levels to improve scheduling and programing content based on viewership.

Below are a few predictions about how several industries that impact our everyday lives – specifically manufacturing, agriculture and government – will be impacted by AI this year and beyond:

Manufacturing

This year will be the breakout moment of AI in the manufacturing industry. With the growth of the elderly population in developed nations, the manufacturing space is already experiencing a shortage of manpower and we will be seeing implementation of AI and industrial robots in the manufacturing space to compensate for the decrease in labor supply.

In the U.S., top startup players such as Vicarious, Kindred and Osaro are already standing out in their use of various artificial intelligence technologies for the manufacturing and industrial space. Kindred's technology is being used to automate part of the distribution process for famous apparel brands such as GAP. Vicarious is also attracting a lot of attention for their type of artificial intelligence not being used by other companies, as well as investment from prominent entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

Following in the footsteps of the U.S., we are also seeing similar technology developments in the AI space in Japan. Public companies such as Omron, FANUC and Yaskawa Electric have been already implementing AI for their industrial robots. We have also seen top Japanese startups like MUJIN and Preferred Network making massive progress in AI implementation for industrial automation.

Agriculture

In 2020, emotion recognition and computer vision, which are relatively new AI technologies that have been emerging for a few years now, will scale tremendously in implementations.

In fact, agriculture companies that offer products using computer vision, AI, and big data will see the most success. In 2020, it will become common to monitor crop growth by computer vision, using technologies built by companies such as Ceres Imaging (US), Taranis (Israel) and Farmwise (US). The data generated by monitoring crops in innovative ways will be used to improve yields, sustainability and profitability.

For example, computer vision can not only enable farmers to detect negative changes in crops faster and more accurately than humans today, but also compare growth to previous cycles to take appropriate measures for additional care or change harvesting plans. This will also free farmers up to focus on the other important aspects that affect crop growth.

Robots, such as those by Abundant Robotics, that harvest plants and fruits will become more common. This will open the door to growing crops in environments that previously experienced more difficulty such as more urban environments.

The technology for improving crop growth efficiency will also be enhanced by indoor farming companies, such as Bowery Farming (US), which was funded by GV. Farming is a labor intensive business and profit margins can be low, thus it can be difficult to scale operational efficiency without significantly reducing profit. Therefore, if there are robotic solutions that provide a better return on investment than other equipment and free up the time of the farmer, then they will be able to consider more options to increase productivity or purchase more land.

Government

With the 2020 US election on the horizon, this will be the first year where artificial intelligences will be used at a significant scale by a variety of individuals and organizations. A primary misconception in our opinion is that Facebook, Twitter, and Google will be the primary enablers of this. Instead, we anticipate that these companies will be prepared for this election cycle given the problem with fake content in 2016.

We expect Time Warner Cable and 21st Century Fox (now the Walt Disney Company) to use AI at the local and national levels to improve scheduling and programing content as well as advertisements based on viewership.

Another example of AI in government can be seen with startup One Concern, who are using artificial intelligence to help governments prepare, respond and mitigate the impact from natural disasters. Ultimately, with the 2020 election and beyond, governments will need to manage using more artificial intelligence solutions to help their societies well-being without compromising security and basic freedoms.

AI’s use cases are endless. This would not have been possible without the maturation of technologies such as voice and image recognition, which only continue to mature. While AI is not a new topic of discussion, the buzz surrounding AI and its impact shows no signs of slowing down.

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