2017, Oh What a Year (for Better or for Worse)

Introduction

Through thick or through thin, we’ve almost made it through 2017 and it’s been a pretty great year. As I’ve been curating the newsletter, day-in-and-day-out, I’ve been carefully noting broad trends and hot highlights. Below, with the help of the rest of the research team, I’ve put together a roundup of the major news pieces and issues which we’ve seen in 2017.

One thing is for sure, AI is on a roll is not stopping (or slowing down) anytime soon. According to a recent report from AI Index (open, not-for-profit project to track activity and progress in AI), AI is rapidly evolving:

  • The number of active US startups developing AI systems has increased 14x since 2000.
  • The number of AI papers produced each year has increased by more than 9x since 1996.
  • Annual VC investment into US startups developing AI systems has increased 6x since 2000.

Here’s what we saw in 2017 surrounding Ethics, Transportation, Finance, and Gaming.


On the (Windy and Bumpy) Road Toward Ethics-By-Design

2017 was the year it was no longer OK to be sexist and misogynistic. We heard from experts in the field, from our very own co-founder Tabitha Goldstaub’s Why Women in AI series, Kate Crawford’s NIPS keynote on The Trouble with Bias, and more. We’ve come to terms with the Sea of Dudes problem, realising that if we don’t get more diversity in AI, we risk coding our biases into the system.

2017 was not without its flaws and ethical quandaries. we saw:

Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel. From corporate ethics boards, to research papers, conferences, and more, sustained and inspiring efforts have been made to combat the bias and address the ethical issues head-on.

Companies are clueing into the fact that you should do things right the first time and are adopting an ethics-by-design approach to AI.  Three examples from this year stick out to us:

We’re left with a few open-ended questions which hang in the balance:

2018 will be the year when we trudge forward, think deeply about Responsible AI, and right our wrongs.


The Impact of AI on Healthcare: At a Healthy, Albeit Early, Stage

According to CBInsights, Health and wellness is the hottest area of investment in AI, with over 270 deals going to the category since 2012. This year, we saw Berlin’s Ada Health raises $47M to become the Alexa of healthcare and a healthcare startup has raised $30M for its ‘Sophia’ AI.

Projections for 2018 say that AI and robotics will be ubiquitous in the coming year (IDC predicts that 50% of surgeons will use computer assisted or robotic surgery techniques) and we have seen the blossoming of this fruit in 2017.

January: NHS Babylon app begins to be trialled in London

January: Zebra Medical’s releases algorithm which detects vertebral compression fractures

February: AI system capable of classifying skin cancer at a level of competence comparable to the dermatologists

July: DeepMind’s partnership with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust ran into trouble

July: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) unveiled a new $43m deal with Scotland-based AI start-up Exscientia

November: Nvidia and Nuance teamed up to bring machine learning to radiologists

November: Deepmind announces they’ll be working to determine if cutting-edge machine learning technology could help improve the detection of breast cancer

November: the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor and step counter can make a fair prediction of whether a person has high blood pressure or sleep apnea research institutions

December: Drug discovery algorithm from Dr James Kermode from Warwick’s School of Engineering) can predict whether or not a candidate drug molecule will bind to a target protein with 99% accuracy


AI You Can Drive My Car, All Around the Globe

The future of transport is moving along, full steam ahead. The development of the technology is maturing quickly, but we are still in the early days in terms of building out the self-driving experience, although we did see Intel partner with Warner Bros and Renault invest in an entertainment company in an effort to address this challenge.

Drones


Finance


Life is but a game, and all the men and women merely players

AI research is inextricably tied up with gaming; just this week we saw Ubisoft combine AI research and game development at ‘La Forge’. if you take a look at the major AI research institutions, breakthroughs toward Artificial General Intelligence have made through gaming.

 

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