Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” Taught Us About Future A.I., but What About Today's New Normal?
Was Interstellar correct about "space folding onto itself?" AI and machine learning have moved into the mainstream technology sector and we need that today.
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“Accident is the first building block of evolution.” This was one of many powerfully inspirational quotes from Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”, starring Sir Michael Caine and Matthew McConaughey.
There is a sequence in “Interstellar” where one could argue that “space folds upon itself.” This is also known as the “Wormhole Theory,” which postulates that a theoretical passage through space-time could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. This was first theorized in 1916, although it wasn’t called a “wormhole” at the time. It wasn’t until 1935, when Albert Einstein posed the theory of general relativity, which, together with physicist Nathan Rosen, proposed the existence of “bridges” through space-time.
This came to be known as Einstein-Rosen bridges or “wormholes.”
In a way, artificial intelligence (A.I.) is a great reminder of how technology as a great tool and innovation for driving efficiency, is going to “fold upon itself.” This is much like the proverbial snake eating its tail. The tech sector is a double-ended beneficiary of A.I., as described by Amit Das, the Global CEO of Think360.AI, a rapidly growing full-stack data science company.
A.I. is all around us, driving change everywhere, from manufacturing and operations to financial services and consumer products. With companies like Tesla, Apple, and Google continuing to perfect self-driving cars, and retail companies looking to “agentless” retail, A.I. is most definitely the future. But, when we talk of A.I., the real question, according to Das, is not whether A.I. can make things better, but rather about how fast it will make things better.
“90% or more of the largest businesses across the globe are still not ready for A.I.,” Das says; “At best, A.I.-driven innovation is at the periphery of their organization design. It will take some time for either disruption to come knocking, or for them to embrace this disruption.”
Amit’s company, Think360, specializes in providing Data Science-as-a-Service (DSaaS) for customers across industries like Banking, Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, Oil & Gas, and Pharmaceutical. “We cannot overlook the proliferation of data and scaling of computing capacity,” the CEO shared with me.
What has been discounted in the initial frenzy, though, is the need to have applicable or practical outcomes supporting the use of A.I. Take GPT3 for instance - its applicability can range from research and development to medical transcription to writing blogs. Which, do you suppose, could be a better practical use case?
In our experience, that cycle of education is where we spend a lot of time. Pick good areas to invest, set measurable targets, drive A.I. projects with undiluted focus, make executive-level commitments, and then scale after proving value.”
“Love Is the One Thing That Transcends Time and Space”
Our society’s interest and love for newer technologies like A.I., virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) sets the boundaries for the future of tech.
“All industries need A.I., not just in their future, but now,” Das says.
"If people do not embrace A.I., they will be left behind. A.I. is the bat and most everything else is the ‘ball.’ You cannot separate A.I. from the ‘new normal’; it is the heart of the ‘new normal’.”
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding A.I. today revolves around the idea that a Hollywood-like “Terminator” scenario would arise, or that the tech would replace the “human” element in most of the work sector.
Indeed, these ideas are folly. Das argues that A.I. and/or machine learning (ML) play a part in almost all of the other applied technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Quantum Computing, 5G, and Blockchain. “A.I. either helps design, react, proactively exhibit actions/events, and allows for growth without the constraint of constant human intervention.”
The company’s Vice President of Americas, Michael Amend, believes A.I. enhances everyday life, providing for greater opportunity for human participation; “It allows for more creativity in the workforce now, more than ever.”
But, does the ability to be more “efficient” mean jobs are lost? No.
“If a company is more profitable, it can grow and hopefully, add more jobs,” Amend added; “If it is not profitable, it will lose money, lose jobs, and eventually go out of business. That is the choice moving forward.”
And, to Amend’s point, that is the choice moving forward. It is important to embrace A.I. for your business, especially with Millennials and Gen-Z coming into the picture. Otherwise, you will find that your business will be run over by the competition that does utilize these game-changing technologies.
In turn, this provides for a need for constant growth and improvement, helping to ensure that employees are always in a position to acquire industry knowledge that keeps them relevant in their niche. “It’s a good thing for their self-worth,” Das describes. At the end of the day, better business decisions yield better business results.
Pharmaceutical Companies and DSaaS
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, A.I. has played an enormous role in the miraculous creations of the vaccinations with Pfizer and Moderna. “Without applied data science, none of this would have been possible,” Das says. He also adds that “Supply chains are more efficient, effective, and linked due to A.I. and machine learning. In some solutions, the Blockchain could also play a key role in the holistic visibility and global understanding of supply chain efficiencies and synchronization.”
And, to Think360’s advantage, the idea of DsaaS allows for customized A.I. solutions within a personalized scope without adding a bevy of data scientists for a project or two.
With the current challenges that pharmaceuticals play into our digital landscape, and now with COVID-19 as a factor, the solutions are certainly long-term. A.I. will be an interesting play within the pharma world moving forward.
“Currently, the industry is working on identifying medicines that act beneficially to the human body by utilizing deep learning techniques and drilling down into vast data sets accumulated over decades,” says Das. He further explained that first identifying targets and then locating candidate molecules, allows for data prediction and synthesis. “Getting the right formula, higher accuracy, and more reproducibility, as well as the correct means of manufacturing and distribution, is all incumbent upon the most intelligent use of the information that has been collected, and is getting collected as we speak.”
One example is the automation and digital transformation of the drug discovery process, which arguably is the largest utilization of A.I. today.
“Where it once took several years, A.I. has now allowed us to create COVID-19 vaccines within a period of months. Now, we need to see if we can assist in the manufacturing and distribution of those drugs more effectively, using A.I.-backed systems supporting the ‘humans’ actually doing the work.”
This is the background of the company’s KwikHealth platform, driven by A.I. and video-based telecommunications focusing on delivering greater value for efficient distribution and transparency in the logistics network, while also balancing patient and consumer privacy with the personalized experience.
KwikHealth helps providers adopt video capability in the patient journey and create relevant and enterprise-ready video interactions. It is custom developed around patient-provider interaction and improves their experience significantly compared to the other platforms used currently, like Zoom and Doxy.me. “We have used this for 200k+ video interactions with 85%+ completion rate and over 90+ NPS score,” says Das.
Banking and Credit Reporting Agencies
If it wasn’t evident before, it’s certainly clear now. Credit bureaus and reporting agencies have set consumers up for absolute failure, showing little to no remorse for the troubles COVID-19 has brought upon consumers. Today’s credit agencies, according to Amend, are extremely convoluted, often described as a “double-edged sword.”
“They have always had a valuable role to play in risk assessment and becoming one of the pillars of financial inclusion and equality. However, in recent years, they have come under a bit of fire for three reasons—failing to prove their presumed unbiasedness; ongoing hacks and breaches in their antiquated infrastructures; and driving unintended financial exclusion due to the date they ‘claim’ to look at.”
In our conversation, Amend described their KwikBanking solution, which, (and just hear me out on this), would allow for the migration of traditional banking services to the cloud.
Could this actually be the answer to the industry’s biggest problem? Forget privacy arguments for a second. The need for small to midsize institutions to compete in the “new normal” against challenger banks like Chime is critical.
Consumer banking is just the beginning as the finance sector starts to venture into A.I., but it will be successfully utilized in onboarding new clients, interacting with current clients, and providing loans that are not necessarily based on the “subjective” criteria these three major credit bureaus impose. “Decisions will be made with human interaction, but qualifications can actually become less subjective, less prejudiced while incorporating more data and perspective into each decision,” Das believes.
It’s fair to assume that our banking, especially now with Bitcoin’s explosive growth ($53,000 USD as of the time this article was written), will continue to transform immensely over the next few years.
Retail Is Hurting
Right now, retailers are suffering hard. With social distancing requirements in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has made in-person sales extremely difficult. But those who are surviving (and even thriving) are utilizing true omnichannel capabilities and understanding their customers better by incorporating a customer-360 perspective.
Bringing in interesting video-driven concierge experiences; enabling true omnichannel experiences designed for the post-COVID lifestyle; making seamless information flow from the front end to the intelligent automation systems—these will become the gamechanger.
Automotive Is Getting More Data-Heavy
Just ask Tesla, and now Apple, with its self-driving model cars. The priority right now is IoT, to provide preventative maintenance on their production lines that are utilizing robotics. Should one of the robots go down unplanned, the line would stop immediately. Until that robot is properly addressed with maintenance, it stays down. That, according to Amend, can cost an average of $22,000 per minute in most automotive plants.
“Cars are one big cache of A.I.,” Amend says. “From the speech recognition systems and navigation systems, down to almost every aspect you can bring up on your dashboard; cars are not quite like stealth aircraft, but they are rapidly approaching ‘The Jetsons’! A car from Tesla on a trip is probably sending back a lot more data than what Google collected in its first few years.”
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have certainly been promoted, moving out of the hidden rooms of computer science, into the mainstream technology sector. Our world needs it, now more than ever.
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