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Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way in the past few years. But for AI to truly fulfill its promise, it needs to do one more thing. It needs to be easy to use. This is just as important as all the computational and technical components that make AI happen in the first place.
AI is at the stage where it’s ready to be in the hands of everyday people. It’s in the same place that computers were more than 40 years ago, when Apple envisioned an easy-to-use, low-cost personal computer for the average consumer, then made that vision a reality.
It is not until we follow Apple’s lead and apply those lessons to AI that it will take off and fulfill its almost-boundless potential. We need to demystify AI and make it practical to use for everyone. On the enterprise side, we need to make AI simple for companies and their employees to adopt into their workflows. This will be a game-changer for the adoption of AI going forward.
In its current form, AI is too inscrutable. There are too many grandiose use cases and too few data scientists to make them a reality. So, to most people, AI is a technology always on the horizon. We need a new generation of integrated, out-of-the-box solutions that make it easy for everyone to tap into the power of AI and enjoy all its benefits.
Today, AI is primarily the playground of an elite group of technology behemoths, companies like Google and Microsoft, which have invested billions in developing and using AI. If you look beyond those companies, AI is often underutilized in other industries, whether it be manufacturing, education, retail or healthcare.
Vast amounts of data are generated by all these industries but AI is rarely used to analyze large sets of data and learn from the patterns and features that exist in the data. The question is, why? The answer is lack of access, understanding and skills. Most companies don’t have access to the sophisticated and costly compute resources required. And they don’t have access to the expensive and limited AI talent needed to use those resources correctly.
These are the two restraints holding AI back from mainstream adoption. But they can be solved if we make AI easy to adopt and easy to use for instant value. Here are three ways we can create an Apple-like experience for AI and bridge the gap to a future in which AI helps businesses do more than they ever imagined.
1. Leverage existing artificial intelligence work
So much AI work exists in the cloud, so it’s no longer necessary for businesses to train their AI from scratch. They can exploit the existing work. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They can take already-functioning AI solutions and use them to fit their own needs. But they can’t do it unless they have an easy, seamless, Mac-like interface to work with.
An illustrative example is found in the world of ecommerce, in the way that Shopify created a user-friendly, Mac-like interface that enables every retailer to easily sell products online. Retailers don’t have to know how to build their own shopping cart technology or how to integrate it with, say, their billing software. Shopify gives them all the pieces they need in one simple package. AI companies can follow this model by providing users in all industries with ready-made, user-friendly AI tools that they can use out of the box to accomplish their business needs.
2. Keep improving the AI every day
AI is able to learn and improve itself continuously. That is its genius. You know this if you own a Tesla, because almost every time you go for a drive, there is a new software update. This happens because there are millions of Teslas on the road now and all those vehicles are gathering data, which is used to improve every vehicle every day. This kind of learning and knowledge-sharing needs to happen with AI in every industry and across different applications.
3. Take advantage of the latest AI models
The AI techniques used just three or four years ago, even though they were revolutionary at the time, are now out of date. New, improved AI models and neural networks are coming all the time similar to how we as humans develop skills when learning something new and continue to develop and add new skills over our lifetime. But for AI users to take advantage of them, they need a new processor architecture and programming model with the flexibility to run both AI and non-AI algorithms.
Once this happens, we will usher in a new era of more practical and commercially viable AI products across a wide range of use cases and industries. One day soon, we will be able to overcome the existing limitations of power, complexity and cost.
All businesses need to focus on what they’re good at, whether it’s building better products or better serving customers. AI can supercharge their ability to do this. It can help them operate more efficiently and, ultimately, boost profitability. AI is already streamlining workflows through advanced automation, speeding up processing via edge computing, and supercharging data analysis. At a manufacturing company, for example, AI can reduce the number of product defects. For a healthcare provider, AI can increase the accuracy of diagnoses and minimize prescription errors, thus saving lives.
We are now just scratching the surface of AI use cases. And we will go further but in order to bring the advantages of AI to every business, we need to make AI as easy to use as a MacBook. Only then will we unleash the real power of artificial intelligence. MACifying AI is truly the next leap forward.
Dinakar Munagala is CEO of Blaize.