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Convergence: Big Data + IoT + Artificial Intelligence = Your Time Has Come

Marian Cook

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"We will move from mobile first to an AI first world." —Sundar Pichai, Google The combination of the internet of things (IoT), the big data it creates, and the ability to make sense of it via AI are at a tipping point.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in our imagination for at least 50 years. Many sci-fi movies reflect this fascination. From Wall-E to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the more recent Ex Machina, there's been a lot of speculation that is more negative than positive (top 12 AI movies here). It usually does not end well for us humans.


Image Source: Wall-E, Disney


AI isn't science fiction anymore. For many, the seminal event for AI was in 2012 with the Imagenet competition. Researchers pitted their systems against humans for speed and accuracy of image classification. Again, it didn't end well for the human team. This mainstreaming created a moment when it was obvious and understandable that machines could be trained to do things better than humans. Now, magazines and newspapers frequently publish articles about the manifestation of AI and how it's going to transform our societies.

There is a lot of hype. More products are gaining mindshare, from IBM's Watson, focused on the enterprise, to the individual consumer with Alexa, Siri, and recently Google's new chatbot Allo.

It is well-funded hype. There's been a tenfold increase in investments and from the private equity industry in AI over the last five years. That doesn't include investments being made by large companies like Facebook and Google. It is not a matter of "if," but of "when," AI will have a huge impact on our economy. It appears, after several "AI winters," where the hype was high, and the results were low, that time is now.

What is different? Three significant upticks: the explosion in processing power, algorithm power, and data. With hardware power increasing and costs dropping, the convergence of IoT, the big data it creates, and the ability to make sense of it via AI are about to take off. Algorithms, enabled by processing power (chip and cloud) and the ability to learn, can now be fed by more data than ever. And IoT is the mother of massive real-world data generation. Intelligence decisions and actions from this treasure trove of IoT data become possible.

This combination will create many opportunities to use that data in interesting ways, and not just by big companies, or around manufacturing, smart cities, or smart states. For example, a gamer built a $1,000 add-on adapter for any self-driving car to make it self-learning. He is using IoT data to help the car learn quickly.

This is an individual, not Tesla.

The combination of leveraging IoT, the big data it generates, and AI to do analysis and predictive analytics will unleash amazing ideas and opportunities. It is time to create new sci-fi stories . . . and to make them come true.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

Marian Cook is a solutions principal for Slalom Consulting, as well as the head facilitator for MIT's blockchain certification course and a strategic advisor to the Chicago Blockchain Center. Immediately prior, she was the chief strategy officer for Innovation and Technology for the State of Illinois, having moved from the private sector to public service in 2015.

She started as a systems engineer with IBM, re-engineering processes, implementing systems, and creating business and technology strategies. Moving to international consulting firms, she worked globally, developing business growth and turnaround strategies, as well as the client side as the head of IT for a top healthcare organization.

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