The 4 Waves of AI and Why They Matter to Your Business

The 4 Waves of AI and Why They Matter to Your Business

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that inspires both fear and awe in humans. We feel its effects in many parts of our lives. Those effects are growing every day. Integrating or even overtaking parts of our lives like the tide, but unlike the tide once it rises, it never recedes. Each digital wave blending into more of our everyday lives. But what are these digital waves? How will they affect our world? How can your business take advantage of them?

Kai-Fu Lee author of AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order identifies the 4 waves of AI as: Internet, Business, Perception and Autonomous.

1 | Internet AI

 Internet AI is reshaping our digital world. Think recommendation engines and these engines are collecting data all labeled by you. How do we label things on the internet? Your purchases, videos you view, items you click on, things you’ve “liked”, places you lingered online is all data you labeled. Self-labeled data that is then analyzed by systems intended to learn your personal preferences and thus recommend more content. The company’s ultimate goal is to tighten its grip on your attention.

How can your business leverage Internet AI?

By getting your customers to label data for you. Track their behavior in your applications and on your websites, data such as clicks, views, likes, reviews, ratings and comments. Analyze this data using 3rd party tools like Google Analytics, to identify individual preferences that can suggest more content to increase time spent on your site.  


2 | Business AI

 Business AI mines all this labeled data for hidden correlations. Humans are only capable of correlating small sets of prominent data points when making correlations, whereas computers can use all the data points, prominent and seemingly irrelevant data points, to identify correlations. Large amounts of structured data is needed here, data that has been categorized and labeled and includes historic decisions and outcomes. Most important this data must be searchable.  

How can your business leverage Business AI?

Many companies already have some sort of structured data – accounting, inventory, customer relationship management – all of which can be mined to improve corporate decision making, maximize profits and uncover inefficiencies. Combining corporate data with global, public data, such as national surveys, research studies, market trends or demographic analysis can also reveal correlations about your industry, your customers and your future.


3 | Perception AI

Perception AI expands the way we interact with the online world by adding “eyes” (face recognition, traffic cameras) and “ears” (Siri and Alexa) to what was once a touch-only (keyboard and mouse) interaction. In this expanded AI world, a picture is no longer just a bunch of meaningless pixels to be displayed in some set order, but rather interpreted as we “see” it, our pet, a sunset, family members.  This wave of AI collects trillions of bits of information about the world around us, blurring the lines between online and offline worlds.

How can your business leverage Perception AI? 

Using the “eyes” and “ears” of the Perception AI wave businesses can truly begin to understand and predict the habits of their customers. For example, imagine a hotel that listens for a request to check-in when a guest enters the hotel then assigns the preferred room (based on past stays and/or verbal requests at check in) and gives the guest access to the room and other hotel amenities using facial recognition. How much more could you learn if you could see and hear your customers?


4 | Autonomous AI

Autonomous AI represents the integration of the previous three waves. Machines that can understand the world around them by continuously collecting, analyzing and optimizing complex data sets including data from a vast array of sensory inputs. This wave includes autonomous cars that make decisions and improvisations based, in part on the rules of the road, but also on what it “sees” and “hears” in the world around it – a car that activates a turn signal before making a left turn, checks the traffic light to “see” the green arrow, and that stops because it “sees” a pedestrian step onto the road.   


As these AI waves continue to raise the digital tide around us your business must be vigilant not only in collecting the data that describes your customer and their behavior, but in the ways you collect that data. The AI revolution is underway. How fast the tide will overtake us is still yet to be determined, but it will have an impact in your industry and to your customers. It is vital you begin now to study and understand its impacts, benefits and challenges.


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