Sophia, Do You Speak English or Arabic?

by John Koon, Editor-in-Chief

When Sophia, the first social robot to receive a country’s citizenship, was asked by a reporter how she (her name and form suggested the maker tried to cast Sophia as a female robot) would get along with the human race at Saudi Arabia’s future investment initiative, she answered in fluent American that she was kind and compassionate. She wanted to help humans live better. We don’t know the full meaning of a robot becoming a legal Saudi Arabia citizen yet. What we can see is the artificial intelligence (AI) inside Sophia. At the time of the interview, she was able to show facial expression and emotion though she did not have any legs and was sitting on a table in front of a microphone. Sophia was created by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong last year.

We have seen how cloud computing has changed our world. The next industrial revolution will be one based on information and intelligence. The engine behind it is AI which is more complex than most people realize. Telling Alexa to order an iPad is a very small piece of AI. So what is AI? It is not a fix for all. “Artificial Intelligence is a concept that needs to be tailored specifically to the application, audience, and desired outcome. One set of toolkit and algorithm may be good for one type of solution such as identifying a pattern in medical research while others are good for object avoidance in driverless vehicles, etc. It is not a one size fits all,” commented Jeff Orr, Research Director at ABI Research, a technology research firm. AI, IoT and big data will propel the next industrial revolution and it will change the way how business is done. What is the definition of AI and what can it really do?

Here is RTC’s definition:

“AI is an application-specific machine computing which includes a collection of software and algorithm capable of guided big data input, processing, learning and decision making”

AI with deep learning and decision-making capability will accelerate product development and applications. Examples are driverless cars and driver-assist technology. Believe it or not, insurance companies will charge a lower rate on driverless (machine driving) car because it would cut down human driving error overall. “But what about those accidents caused by the driverless car in the news?” you may ask. That will change though it may take a few more years before real dependable driverless cars running around in a big city like New York. The day has already come that driverless cars can operate safely in the rural area as well as in the farm land. We are seeing many new experiments such as driverless cars delivering pizza (by Ford) and Uber are testing driverless taxi. This will completely change the business model of car ownership and that is why GM, Ford, BMW, Toyota, Uber and others are all getting into the driverless car business. Potentially, a person can get along without owning a car. One click on an app will summon the car to the door step. This will revolutionize the car ownership model.


Another example is IBM’s Watson which not only won the chess game but it will help doctors do a better job in research and diagnosis. It is impossible for a human being to read and digest thousands of new medical articles and journals. But machine can. IBM is betting its reputation on AI and names many of its division as Watson. These are just some examples and the list goes on. Are you ready for the next industrial revolution?

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