Photo: Xavier Caré. Source: Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA 4.0
We know what artificial intelligence is. That’s when computer algorithms can beat us at checkers or chess, or help manage freight train traffic through Chicago. And people understand the internet of things, where a smart-thermostat talks to a motion sensor at home and turns down a room’s heat if there’s nobody in there. But what is the AI of things?
There are lots of practical uses for AI. It’s not just for playing games. Surveillance systems use facial recognition and motion sensors to make sure that only the right people have access to secure spaces. But this can lead to security concerns. I may not want a digital picture of my face uploaded to the cloud by my phone. Among other reasons, what if someone hacks that picture and uses it to access my ATM card? In that case, security software can create insecurity.
The practical solution is to keep the information local. There’s no need to put secure information into a centralized cloud-based database. That’s less secure and it’s slower, as loads of devices create increased computing loads on a central system. Instead, information can be moved to the “edge,” where it’s both used and needed. For example, Sharp recently introduced a smart hot pot that suggests recipes based on what meals a person has cooked and the weather outside and any dietary restrictions. It can then communicate with the web to order the ingredients. All you need to do is put them in the pot and tell it when to have the meal ready. That data – your preferences, your ingredients, your voice commands – resides on the device. There’s no need to upload it to the cloud. Devices should be secured on a need-to-know basis.
AI of Things has practical applications in all kinds of other areas. Farmers can map out their crops and their weeds to improve yields without herbicides; chip-making machinery can sense and adjust for minute variations in semiconductor chemistry to improve computing speeds; and our homes can be both more convenient and more secure.
This kind of innovation can be revolutionary, and it’s part of the reason that technology shares have been pulling the market higher. AI isn’t just cool video games and the latest autonomous toys; it’s about helping people live better lives.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA