Some major industries could soon be shaken up by a new development in artificial intelligence— the technology’s increasing portability.
Chip manufacturers are making processors specifically for machine learning and related AI features, noted Deloitte analysts David Schatsky, Jonathan Camhi, and Aniket Dongre in a new report. In many cases, those chips are being designed to consume minimal power, making it possible for them to be used in small, portable devices. Meanwhile, AI software developers are designing new algorithms that can be run directly on such chips without ever needing to connect to computers in the cloud.
The result is that we are about to enter an era that the analysts dubbed “pervasive intelligence,” filled with devices and sensors that have AI technologies embedded within them. That coming era could offer big business opportunities for some companies while also significantly threatening the business models of others.
“Smart machines may well help expand existing markets, threaten incumbents, and shift how profits are divided,” the Deloitte analysts said in the report. “The impacts could ultimately be significant,” they continued.
We’re already starting to see the first developments in this era. Apple’s latest iPhones include an AI chip it calls its Neural Engine that is designed to perform machine-learning tasks such as image recognition on the device. And earlier this year, researchers at MIT announced they’d designed an AI chip that’s three to seven times faster than its predecessors while using 95% less power.
Similar chips could soon be placed in a wide range of devices and other products, from robots to internet of things gadgets, wind turbines to medical devices, the Deloitte analysts said. Processing AI tasks on such devices rather than in the cloud can allow them to respond more quickly to changing circumstances or dangerous situations. It also allows them to continue to function even when they can’t connect to the internet. And it can help preserve privacy by limiting access to private data.
Here are some of the industries that could be affected by such pervasive intelligence: