AI in 2019

I am Jeffrey Ng, Chief Data Scientist at Founders Factory. I have been working at the Factory for two years and prior to that was a co founder at Cortexica and I am also on the board for some of our incubator companies, including Chosen AI & Nate.

Often I am asked where I see AI going, and although that it is hard to answer definitively, with a new year ahead, I wanted to share with you my thoughts for AI in 2019.

There are a number of autonomous, self-driving technologies that seem to be coming of age, especially in the field of Computer Vision, which acts as an enabler for other areas like general-purpose robotics, healthcare diagnostics and video production.

Although not very glamorous, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) promises to have the most impact on the future of work. RPA can help with administrative tasks such as writing invoices, creating new accounts, setting up emails etc.

A technology you are probably more familiar with is that of conversational interfaces, which you might know better by their brand names, such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri or Founders Factory's Nate. Their popularity was evidenced over the Christmas period, with Amazon's Alexa selling out everywhere and Google and Apple's own offerings not lagging far behind.

There has been a lot of buzz around Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and so-called deepfakes. Deepfakes can use reference image and video material to show a person performing an action that never actually happened. While there are a number of exciting opportunities for this, such as aspiring directors not needing huge budgets to churn out slick looking content, there have already been problems in the media world, with politicians and celebrities becoming targets of various smear campaigns: attaching celebrity heads to pornographic material, politicians wrongly being accused of saying things they didn't actually say (though it's hard to keep up) etc.

I am particularly excited for the future of two companies I work directly with; Straight Teeth Direct and Nate. Straight Teeth Direct is blending AI and bleeding edge manufacturing/supply chain optimisation to make it easier for people to improve their smiles - for real, no deepfakes involved. Nate, on the other hand, enables Internet shoppers to buy products from aggregator websites using a single click, removing the pain of having to complete a different checkout flow for each retailer.

So, that is a very quick overview for 2019. I'm aware that many of these terms may seem alien if your knowledge of AI is limited. However, if you have a keen interest and want to learn more, I would love to hear from you. AI is the future, and we should all aim to understand how it's going to change our lives.

Jeff Ng