Is 2017 Going To Be The Year of AI, Cognition and Context?

AI or Artificial Intelligence has been a buzzword for ages now. One one side, it is quite a draw in the cinematic universe where sentient AI entities either help humanity or start planning to wipe it out altogether. But closer home in the real world, are we at a point where AI is really in our lives and helping us solve problems? Where are we now? Will 2017 be the year of AI, Cognition and Context being the predominant technology trends?

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Let’s see where AI is now and then try and understand where we are going with it. Every technology major worth it’s salt has an AI group that is either baking in AI into its existing products or coming up with new ones that will think and decide and fix things themselves. Ranging from Google, IBM, Microsoft to Bangalore based startups that are trying to solve more real problems that are changing our day to day lives, they are all into AI.


The closest and perhaps the most popular percolation of AI into our lives is the creation and proliferation of chat bots on social media. These are by no means simple textual utilities, they have inference, context and conversational skills built into them. What’s more, they are learning and adapting everyday. As each interaction happens, they learn and become more human like. Eventually, these will help optimize anything by removing discretion, bias and fatigue out of critical functions like real time analytics, medical analysis and hiring processes.

AI and Cognitive computing can help improve medical services very significantly. In areas where access is an issue, the cognitive AI enabled systems like IBM Watson can go a long way in helping out. In the treatment and counselling of people with learning and developmental disorders, these systems are great tools. They can be programmed to connect, condition and counsel optimally without making patients feel apprehensive of discrimination.

For corporates, the hiring process is now posing a big challenge. There are requirements and then there are candidates, mapping one to the other is generally a very stressful process. This is complicated further with a large number of graduates who are qualified but not employable. Using AI and contextual analysis will help a lot here. We are now heading into a world where everything is eventually going to end up as a service and hence the  conventional definition of jobs, offices and work are changing in a big way. What if there is a resource who is busy for only three hours a day and and can be used by other companies during the free time? What if the consultation model is a win-win for both the consultant and the client? Given these considerations, the hiring process would greatly benefit from having a contextual analytic engine powered by AI helping it. This will also alleviate security issues as context becomes proprietary and not data. So even if data is breached, it will be out of context and hence useless. But yes, this will need the employers also to grow their visions and ideas beyond getting people in from 9 to 5 and having them in line of sight control.

While computing talent data, Spire Technologies uses a contextual corpus cloud which matches search results to search terms/keywords in a contextually intelligent manner. A simple example: ‘Skills’ are not just exact matches of search terms that are pulled out but instead ranked as per ‘skill proficiency’; and search parameters are answered by a horde of related tags and their relationships. This makes computing ‘richer,’ ‘in-depth’ and ‘pin-pointed’. This results in 95% accuracy in contextual search and 80% accuracy in demand-supply mapping which is by far way ahead of existing systems.

Another area where AI will make life easier is enabling access for the disabled. When a challenged person is negotiating a terrain in real life that has obstacles, AI powered technology can help them analyze and in real time negotiate the challenge much better than what they can do today. i know brilliant visually challenged long distance runners who will put the best to shame, they all use AI powered assistance to do this.

So, coming to the question on hand, will 2017 be the year that all this takes a decisive spot in our lives and actually help us to lead higher quality lives? Definitely! IBM is working with multiple entities to bring in Watson into various walks of life ranging from medicine to smart cities. Spire Technologies has taken up the challenge to make hiring smart with contextual reasoning and search. There are youngsters in Chennai building smart displays that will stream content based on who is sitting in front of them. Couple these with the advances that are expected in Virtual and Augmented Reality and there is no doubt that 2017 will indeed be the year of AI, Cognition and Context. Fasten your seat belts! The ride just got interesting!