2020 Ushers in Real Progress in Artificial Intelligence
While 2020 brought many unforeseen challenges and forced us to change our day-to-day routines, one silver lining may come through the increased usage of technology for communication, organization and productivity. Swift and massive shifts in behavior have accelerated the adoption of tools and platforms for personal and professional use. Despite our collective quick adoption of Zoom or Microsoft Teams, the rate of technological innovation continues to outpace our collective ability to utilize it. One driving force for technological advancement, and something we are very excited about, is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Excited? Artificial Intelligence? You might be asking yourself if this is the right response to such a scary topic, one used frequently in Hollywood’s apocalyptic movies. While we love Terminator as much as the next person, we have a much rosier outlook on how AI will impact our lives and businesses.
The AI we’re talking about is derived from the application of Machine Learning (ML). ML is the study of computer algorithms that continue to improve automatically through experience. Together AI and ML can enable some truly magical experiences and capabilities. You might not know it, but ML and AI have been around and have played an important part in your life and your work for quite some time. In fact, the smartphone in your pocket is full of Narrow Artificial Intelligence: small features and functionality that make specific tasks easier to manage. Whether it’s the spam filter keeping unneeded distractions out of your inbox or the face detection authenticating your touchless purchases, ML & AI has served you and your business well.
Unsurprisingly, 2020 has been a year of substantial progress in the field of ML and AI. There were a number of major breakthroughs that have us excited about how AI can (and will) impact our future. Harmelin’s team of data scientists and developers have been keeping their eye on a few key AI projects that we feel are going to be very significant for our industry.
- One of the most significant advancements in AI came from the OpenAI initiative. Introduced in June 2020, the GPT-3 language model boasts some phenomenal improvements over its predecessors. This language model has taken natural language processing and development to a mind-blowing scale. Trained by ingesting the majority of the live text on the open web, GPT-3 can generate text content that is almost indistinguishable from human composition. To demonstrate just how powerful this new technology is, we invite you to take a look at an opinion piece written by GPT-3 in The Guardian. We’re excited to see how this impressive new technology will be applied to content development in advertising as well as business operations. It only took a few examples of the content comprehension capabilities for us to request access to their API Beta.
- Tesla has begun to roll out its Full Self-Driving Beta to a limited number of drivers. They are leveraging ML to help improve the safety and performance over time. It is possible that a safer road environment could improve ad performance in the real world, as drivers will have more cognitive space to process road-side ads.
- Researchers at DeepMind (Google) made a stunning breakthrough in the realm of protein folding, which has stood as a grand challenge in biology for the past 50 years. The latest version of their AI system, named AlphaFold, has been recognized as a solution to the decades–old problem. This new technology has already been used to predict the structure of six understudied proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 virus to hopefully better understand the virus. We’re excited to see Google, one of our largest partners, make some progress in getting everyone back into the office. AlphaFold will likely have a big impact on the efficiency of drug discovery and could also be used to find new proteins and enzymes that could break down plastics or other industrial wastes.
- In September, Apple introduced a big Siri update. Boasting that the digital assistant now knows 20 times more facts than just three years ago. Apple’s website highlights the important role that ML plays in improving Siri’s performance over time. Apple is also quick to point out their privacy–focused approach to both digital assistants and advertising, contrasting with rivals like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
- Amazon Web Services has continued to expand and improve their offering of AI–related tools including the launch of their custom chip for cloud ML, Trainium. It has never been easier for developers and researchers to get access to both software and hardware specialized for AI–related tasks.
Harmelin Media has been able to utilize some of these off-the-shelf solutions. Our engineering team is currently piloting Amazon’s CodeGuru service which uses AI and ML to look for bugs or vulnerabilities in our code. We are always on the lookout for any tools or technologies that can help us deliver for our clients in new and exciting ways. Amazon Web Services is our go-to when it comes to building cloud-based solutions.
This year has brought some truly monumental changes to our lives. Harmelin remains hopeful that the breakthroughs in AI will continue to help us as we work to solve the ever–evolving challenges of our business and the business of our clients. We’re excited as ever about the future of AI and ML and will be watching the space with anticipation in the new year ahead.