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The present & future of AI, part 1: 4 mind-blowing AI & robotics applications from 2018 you (probably) didn’t hear about

It’s no secret that AI is the buzzword taking the tech world by storm. A recent survey by Deloitte found that 76% of executives surveyed believe that AI applications will substantially transform their business in the next three years. Indeed, the combined impact of rapid dataset growth and massive advances in computing power means that machine learning and robotics are advancing at a dazzling rate.

We all know that machine learning is fuelling everything from the spam filters in our inboxes to Doodle’s very own ventures into AI applications in scheduling. But with the sheer volume of AI advancements being reported on, a lot of truly innovative (and deeply cool) projects are applying AI techniques in ways we’ve never even considered. Here are four mind-blowing AI & robotics applications which are changing the world in ways you (probably) never imagined.

Diagnosing Global Diseases, in Even the Remotest Places

The combined advancements in healthcare and AI over the past few years have been staggering, completely changing the ways we think about health, healing and survival. Yet many of the least-connected places on the planet are the most affected by treatable diseases, and they’re the least likely to feel the impacts of sophisticated technology. This is where AiScope come in; they’ve created a solution to diagnose global diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and diarrhea which is cheap, portable, and that can be used virtually anywhere. They’ve used advanced machine learning and computer vision techniques to make microscopic diagnosis portable, and usable by virtually anyone. The best part: it’s open source, meaning anyone with computer vision can contribute and push forward this life-saving solution!

Help Out on the International Space Station

NASA might be one of the most well-known scientific organisations on the planet- but did you know that autonomous flying drones will soon be doing vital housekeeping work on board the International Space Station? Dubbed Astrobees, these autonomous drones were inspired by the training droids from Star Wars. Equipped with navigation algorithms and cutting-edge image recognition capabilities, the Astrobees will soon be responsible for regulating air quality and taking inventory on the ISS- as well as conducting small experiments themselves.

Finding Lost Children

In India, missing children is a huge social issue, causing untold trauma and distress for families. It’s estimated that more than 230,000 children went missing in India between 2012 and 2014. Despite being controversial in many applications, facial recognition algorithms have been hugely helpful in reuniting lost children with their families. In 2018, TrackChild deployed a new algorithm which ran facial recognition to determine matches between missing child notices and 45,000 pictures of children living in orphanages. In just 4 days, it managed to find and identify 2,930 missing children, changing the lives of thousands forever.

Allow Us to Pilot Drones With Our Minds

Being able to pilot a drone with just our thoughts is a sci-fi dream for many; and thanks to the advanced robotics and neuroscientific work of Emotiv, that dream is a now a reality. In 2018, they publicly unveiled their Insight headset– an EEG that can measure brain activity, and use it to pilot a drone. What the technology actually does is pick up on a sustained thought pattern- so thinking “Rise!” or “Fly!” will cause the drone to take off, but so will thinking about cheese, or virtually anything else you can focus your attention on. Regardless: piloting a drone through sheer concentration is pretty damn cool.

 

Eileen McNulty-Holmes is a writer and content specialist based in Berlin. For the past ten years, they have written, edited and strategized for companies and publications spanning tech, arts and culture.

 

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