2018: The Year of ‘Just Do It’

Introduction: Moving From Experimental to Mainstream

As we heard at our end-of-year community drinks event, it is clear that AI is now crossing the chasm faster than any technology before it. We are now moving from experimental to mainstream. This is an exciting and important time to deploy in your organisation. 2018 will be all about turning these 2017 experiments into 2018 realities. We thought it might be useful for you to provide you with a roundup of what the major publications, thought leaders, and enterprises think is in store for the future of AI in 2017.

Future of Work Predictions

Some of most frequently cited statistics surrounding AI and automation are focused on the number of displacement of jobs. However, the predictions we have seen are not all doom and gloom.

Upskilling: as displacement becomes a reality, a critical question which arises is: how is society to help and support those who have been displaced?

Changing the Nature of Jobs by Augmenting Humans

Transportation Predictions

In 2017, we saw self-driving technology move forward at a steady pace. The development of the technology has matured quickly, but we are still in the early days in terms of building out the self-driving experience and cybersecurity.

Experience: In 2017 we saw Intel partner with Warner Bros and Renault invest in an entertainment company in an effort to address this challenge

  • Dr. Rana el Kaliouby (CEO and co-founder, Affectiva): we will see the rise of an AI-based computer vision solution to ensure safe driving, seamless handoffs to a human driver, and an enriched travel experience based on the emotional, cognitive and wellness of the occupants

Safety: This year we saw a deadly car crash in a Tesla, which got us thinking about seriously put the notion of safety of autonomous vehicles on the map.

Road-Ready: As of July 2017, 36 businesses authorised to test self-driving cars in California (up over 3x from 2016); what will the road of 2018 look like?

  • Azeem Azhar (Exponential View): Autonomous vehicles will broadly remain in testing, but we’ll see many more pilot programmes.

Transparency and Ethics Predictions

A perennial problem in AI is the so-called ‘Black Box Problem’, or the idea that we can’t quite get to the bottom of the reason behind algorithmic decision making. In 2018, some predict that we will demand more transparency and will see it come to fruition.

  • Or Shani, (CEO, Albert AI): developers will begin prioritizing advanced forms of accountability, reporting and system queries that allow users to ask, “Why?”, in response to very specific actions
  • Aaron Kalb (co-founder and head of product, Alation): high quality training data will become a coveted resource
  • Michel Morvan (co-founder and CEO, Cosmo Tech USA): people will become disillusioned as the experts acknowledge that there is only so much that AI will be able to do
  • Anand Rao, Joseph Voyles and Pia Ramchandani (PWC): Understanding precisely how deep learning works enables its greater development and use; we will also push for more explainable AI in general
  • Bradley J. Erickson ,MD, PhD (consultant for Department of Radiology): There will be much fewer concerns about deep learning being a ‘black box,’ as new techniques will help us understand what DL is ‘seeing‘.
  • George Shih (founder, MD.ai): We will start seeing more and more people from all kinds of backgrounds participating in building, developing and productizing AI

Retail, Marketing, and Personalisation Predictions

In retail: personalisation is king. According to a McKinsey report, 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that deliver custom content based on real-time interactions.

  • Dan Baruchi (CEO, Personali): the rise of personalised dynamic pricing
  • Pehr Luedtke (SVP of Business Development, Valassis Digital): AI will continue to grow as advertisers gain a better understanding of how the technology can fit into their customer engagement plans and enhance the shopping experience
  • Dan Rosenberg (Chief Strategy Officer, MediaMath): we’ll finally start to see AI deliver on the omnichannel promise to make marketing that consumers—and others in the value chain—love
  • Bryan Chagoly (VP of Technology, Bazaarvoice): AI will help marketers correlate and synthesise signals from different sources more efficiently than before
  • Forrester: Intelligent agents will directly influence 10% of purchase decisions, 67% of retailers will be unprepared to exploit intelligent agents, and 25% of brands will lack expertise in the lingua franca of intelligent agents
  • Jan Kautz (senior director of Visual Computing and Machine Learning Research, NVIDIA): AI to be able to create new personalized media, such as music according to your taste

Investing in AI Predictions

Investment in AI is red hot to the extent that 80% of enterprises are investing in AI today (Vanson Bourne study).

Business Deployment Predictions

According to recent survey findings from Gartner reveal that almost 60% of organisations surveyed have yet to take advantage of the benefits of AI. 2018 will be the year when more and more enterprises will take the plunge and go from Lab to Live.


  • Guy Levy-Yurista (Head of Product, Sisense): AI will finally be able to ‘understand’ business data in lieu of simply reporting on it
  • Timo Elliott (Innovation Evangelist, SAP): all products, services, and business processes will be self-improving
  • Stanton Jones (Director and Principal Analyst, ISG): narrow AI applications will make a big splash in enterprise support functions in 2018
  • Tomer Naveh (CTO, Albert): AI interfaces will become so accessible that non-technical users across organizations and roles will be able to operate them
  • Derek Choy (CIO, Rainforest QA): Companies will turn to AI to help scale and do jobs instead of adding headcount
  • Forrester: 75% of early AI projects will underwhelm due to operational oversights

Rate of Deployment

  • Markus Noga (Head of Machine Learning, SAP): More and more companies will grow out of proof of concepts and will effectively start to apply AI throughout the business
  • Nima Negahban (CTO and cofounder, Kinetica): investments in AI life cycle management will increase and technologies that house the data and supervise the process will mature
  • Deloitte: predict that machine learning will intensify in 2018 among large and medium-sized enterprises in Canada, with double the number of implementations and pilot projects using machine-learning technology compared to 2017

Healthcare Predictions

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.

  • Christian Boucher (Healthcare Evangelist, Citrix): AI will play a major role in healthcare in optimising workflows both within in-patient and out-patient scenarios
  • Frank Ingari (CEO, Growth Ally): 2018 will be the year that exposes where AI works and where it fails in healthcare
  • Mark Michalski (executive director, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Center for Clinical Data Science): We’re going to move from algorithms to products and think more about integration and validation
  • Safwan Halabi (medical director of Radiology Informatics, Stanford Children’s Health, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital): we will begin to see AI-enabled tools translate from the research lab to the radiologist workstation and ultimately the patient bedside

Bot and Personal Assistants Predictions

  • Dharmesh Shah (co-founder and CTO, HubSpot): we’ll see bots start making it possible for businesses to provide answers to the most common questions their customers have
  • Farzein Shahidi (Nextplane and Intrprtr): enterprises will adopt strategic and unique ways to weave AI into their day-to-day interactions and automate conversations for maximum efficiency
  • Alejandro Troccoli (senior research scientist, NVIDIA): Personal assistant AIs will keep getting smarter, being able to prepare your dinner for you without asking

Innovation Predictions

Further Reading

PWC: Top 10 AI technology trends for 2018

Telegraph: Artificial intelligence and ‘upskilling’: five workplace trends that will dominate 2018

Azeem’s Azhar: Crowdsourced Predictions on Tech & Society for 2018

Forbes: 51 Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predictions For 2018

Forbes: 5 Artificial Intelligence Predictions For 2018

VentureBeat: 2018 is the year chatbots join the enterprise

Forrester: Predictions 2018: A year of reckoning

MarTech Today: The CMO’s guide to AI’s marketing impact for 2018

NVIDIA: Where Is AI Headed in 2018?

Deloitte: TMT Predictions 2018

Kantar & Millward Brown: Media & Digital Predictions 2018

VentureBeat: An investor’s view of AI in 2018

Nieman Lab: Predictions for Journalism 2018

NBC: 15 top science & tech leaders offer surprising predictions for 2018

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