Cartika Blog

Cloud-Backed Narrow-AI Applications Will Power The Age Of Context

When we think about artificial intelligence, what comes to mind is usually none-too-friendly fictional examples like HAL and the machines from The Matrix, although there are some more friendly AIs, like Data from Star Trek. Friendly or not, we’re a long way from having functional AIs of this type, but over the next few years, most of us are going to be relying on a narrow sort of AI: AIs capable of organizing a limited subset of data in useful ways. The push towards artificially intelligent personal assistants will be driven by the ubiquity of smart mobile devices, made possible by the deluge of data delivered by the Internet of Things, and have tremendous impact on many different fields, including healthcare, planning, business organization, collaboration, and leisure. An example most people will be familiar with is Google Now: a smart virtual assistant on Android devices that uses Google’s insight into many different areas of our life to preemptively populate its interface with information that we’ll find useful at that moment. Because Google has access to our location, our email, and our history, the company is able to integrate that information in intelligent ways. That ability to integrate many different sources of information in ways that help us move around the world and do our jobs is at the crux of narrow artificial intelligence. A typical example from Google Now is travel information: the app knows where you are from GPS data, it knows where you want to be because it has access to your calendar, it knows how to get there because it has detailed mapping and public transport data, and it knows how long the journey will take because it can access traffic and weather data. All of that can be intelligently combined into a single card that says: “You should leave in the next ten minutes if you want to arrive at your appointment on time.” As ever more sensor-equipped devices are connected to the Internet, ever more data will be produced from a dizzying array of sources. To make that information useful, multiple streams must be integrated and contextualized — a great opportunity for developers and vendors of developer services alike, including cloud vendors. Google Now is just one example. As Forbes writer Peggy Anne Salz points out, investor interest in narrow AI applications is growing. Applications like Sunrise, Lowdown and Charlie are focused on integrating and contextualizing the flood of information that’s available, helping users offload day-to-day cognitive loads onto devices and services. As interest in narrow-AI applications grows, and the number of developers seeking to leverage the increased volume of data available to them, cloud vendors who are well placed to provide the scalable infrastructure contextual applications require will benefit considerably from new and exciting opportunities. Image: Flickr/Saad Faruque