“There are more than 9bn connected devices operating globally, generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data daily,” says Niklas Waser, Vice-President of Watson IoT Europe. “However, 90 per cent of that data is never used. The market for making sense of these devices is expected to reach €1.45tn by 2020.”
Germany seemed the logical choice for the investment – the perfect platform for research and development across a number of sectors, Industry 4.0 in particular. “Germany has a number of world-renowned institutes such as DFKI, Fraunhofer Institute and Max Planck Institute carrying out research in AI,” says Ross Turner, head of engineering at Visual Meta, a Berlin start-up which uses AI to customize a shopping portal called Ladenzeile. “In addition, the general education level of computer scientists in Germany is very high, which means that the majority of them have a very good understanding of AI technology and concepts. This has helped to build up AI know-how in the German economy on a broad scale.”
The future of AI
It is still early days for AI, but there are so many applications for it and directions it could go in. “Increased computing power and wider availability of data have seen techniques such as deep learning come to the fore,” says Turner. “This has fueled some state-of-the-art results in fields such as image recognition and natural language processing. There is a lot of growth potential in areas such as workplace automation, conversational interfaces, smart homes and driverless cars.”
In terms of accomplishing specific tasks, AI can be considered mass market, but as Turner points out, the point at which we will be able to interact with robots that can exhibit self-awareness or communicate effortlessly in natural language is still some way off.