CES 2019 officially began on Tuesday, with Consumer Technology Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro and CES Executive Vice President Karen Chupka highlighting the rise of smart cities, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and health tech at this year’s show in their opening keynote address.
“Every company is or is becoming a tech company,” Shapiro said. This year’s 4,500 exhibitors includes representatives from every major and emerging industry across 155 countries, regions, and territories, including companies like John Deere, Proctor and Gamble, and Raytheon that are integrating technology into their products and services.
“The only certainty about the future is disruption,” Shapiro said. The pace of technological change is accelerating faster than anything we’ve ever experienced, and tech powers everything we do, he added. This requires us to begin to think horizontally to how tech can power an entire ecosystem, from homes to cities to countries, and governments to create innovation-friendly work and regulatory environments, Shapiro said.
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Shapiro turned over the keynote to IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty, who outlined three predictions for what’s coming next for technology in the following three areas:
IBM estimates that less than 1% of the data the world emits is actually studied, Rometty said. “Deep data is data that’s not yet collected and not yet analyzed,” she said. “But if you could, some really wonderful things could be learned.”
For example, IBM Research created a fingernail sensor that can aid in early diagnosis of Parkinsons and other diseases. Medtronics’ Sugar.IQ personal diabetes assistant product uses Watson to monitor blood sugar, and by collecting more information from the user, can now diagnose and predict hypoglycemia four hours in advance. The Weather Company, owned by IBM, is announcing a global weather prediction system for the most accurate local weather anywhere in the world, which will be paired with crowdsourced information and barometer readings from cell phones. This model will run every hour, every 3 km globally. The implications of this could be helping farmers predict crops, and helping pilots determine the safest flight path.
Dario Gil, head of AI and quantum research at IBM, joined Rometty during the keynote to discuss what systems will look like that can handle massive amounts of data and do something with that information. Today, we have narrow AI, which is what we’ve seen with deep learning, Gil said: This AI is able to achieve superhuman accuracy in its predictive power, if you give it enough supervised learning examples. However, it typically needs tens of thousands or even millions of examples to do so.
At the other end of the spectrum is general AI, which refers to human-like intelligence, and the ability to learn many tasks across many domains, and have autonomy and agency. This is still decades away from happening, Gil said.
The step between narrow AI and general AI is known as broad AI, Gil said.
“Broad AI recognizes that you have to bring learning and reasoning together, so you can learn from less examples and across more tasks in a domain,” Gil said. It has to be scalable, driven by automated programming and specialized AI hardware, he added. It’s also not just about accuracy, but about making a trusted AI, meaning it must be explainable, fair, and secure, Gil said.
For businesses, broad AI means that less training time is needed for AI models, which means faster time to market, Gil said.
In terms of gaining insights from increasing amounts of data, quantum is a fundamentally new form of computation, bringing together information and quantum physics. At CES 2019, IBM announced the Q System One quantum computer, the first complete quantum system.
For technology to be trusted, tech companies must prepare society for whatever is coming along, so everyone can participate in all of the benefits it will offer, Rometty said. There is much discussion over whether AI will create or destroy jobs—it will do both, she said—but either way, 100% of jobs will be different because of it and other technologies. This means companies must think about how to retrain and create new workforces to prepare.