In 2022, we can expect AI to expand its reach into robotic automation, better software for decision-making and a confrontation of the looming ethical issues, according to Sony experts.
Three experts from Sony AI America recently discussed the future of artificial intelligence and what Sony sees coming in 2022. While some trends seem to be a natural evolution for AI as more companies adopt it, others could address some of the issues we’re facing, as the war on COVID wages on.
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Those who discussed AI trends were: Michael Spranger, COO, of the Sony artificial intelligence team; Alice Xiang, head of AI Ethics Office (Sony Group Corporation) and senior research scientist, AI ethics lead; and Peter Stone, executive director of Sony AI America. Here’s what they believe will happen in 2022.
1. AI in gastronomy
AI could well change the way we conceptualize, create and enjoy food.
“AI and robotics present exciting new opportunities for the food and beverage industry, where companies are actively exploring the use of these new technologies in all aspects of their operations,” Spranger said. “Some of the most exciting applications of AI in gastronomy are on the creative side, where AI is being used to further enhance the imagination and creativity of chefs and culinary experts beyond what is possible today. Some of these AI applications will soon support chefs in such things as enhancing the sensory experiences of cooking and eating, creating healthier and more sustainable recipes and automating and scaling food preparation. These advances will change the way chefs create food combinations, pairings and platings and will assist chefs in their process of developing new, original recipes that are also healthy and support sustainability for the environment.”
I will add to that breakthrough innovations in food serving and preparation robotics, such as Flippy, a robot that flips burgers, along with the many self-service kiosks at McDonalds and other restaurants.
This AI-propelled automation helps to alleviate labor shortages that were created by the COVID pandemic. The automation also keeps food freer from human touch, a source of germ transmission.
2. Better hiring practices
Almost every company in the COVID era is facing labor shortages that they could help to alleviate if they broadened the lens for individuals whom they consider for employment. AI can help to expand this lens for employers as they look at a more diverse field of job applicants.
“It’s necessary for any technology that impacts human life to be created from a diversity of voices,” Spranger said. “Historically, AI has been driven forward without the participation of people from different backgrounds, causing consequences for underrepresented communities. Diversity is crucial to prevent harm and enable innovation … . One dimension we need to pay close attention to when expanding our teams is to make sure we hire people from different disciplines–including the arts, social sciences, philosophy, etc. AI cannot succeed in fulfilling its promise for humanity without input from the breadth of human experience.”
3. AI ethics as a strategic imperative
“In recent years, we have seen an explosion of AI technologies deployed in a wide variety of different industries—everything from entertainment to healthcare to education to law enforcement,” Xiang said. “While many of these technologies have been very beneficial for society, this growth has also increased awareness of potential risks and harms. As a result, we’ve started to see a much bigger spotlight on AI ethics over the past few years, and this trend will accelerate in the coming year.”
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Xiang believes it will no longer be enough for technology companies to just have good intentions. We’re already seeing that with individuals and governments fighting back against social media and facial recognition.
“There will be emphasis on fairness, transparency and accountability in AI, and growing pressure from regulators and the public for companies to operationalize these principles,” Xiang said. “Companies that have integrated ethical AI into their processes from the start will realize the most success as the industry places more and more importance on these issues.”
4. The growth of neural networks that help robots think
“We are now seeing increased interest in understanding the limitations of neural networks and integrating them with other tried and true AI algorithms,” Stone said.
Neuro-symbolic networks help robots reason like humans and have the ability to expand the scope of robotic tasks into thinking ones.
“I’m optimistic that research in this direction will be particularly useful for advances in general-purpose service robots capable of robust perception, communication in natural language, task and motion planning for object manipulation, and natural human-robot interaction,” Stone said.