Artificial Intelligence is Going Mainstream

Artificial intelligence used to be a “science project,” but AI increasingly is becoming a practical tool for home appliances and customer service apps, among others. That said, the industry selling AI software and services remains a small one.

Dave Schubmehl, research director at IDC, calculates that sales for all companies selling cognitive software platforms--excluding companies like Google and Facebook, which do research for their own use--added up to $1 billion in 2015.

He predicts that by 2020 that number will exceed $10 billion. USAA, the insurance provider, has been testing ways to use AI to fine-tune its detection of identity theft, for example. USAA also is looking at ways to use AI to improve customer service.

Using AI technology built by Saffron, a division of Intel, USAA has found it can match broad patterns of customer behavior to that of specific members, and 88 percent of the time it can correctly predict things like how certain people might next contact USAA and what products they will be looking for when they do. Without the AI, USAA’s systems were guessing right 50 percent of the time.

With ABI Research forecasting more than 120 million voice-enabled devices will ship annually by 2021, voice control, which combines speech recognition and natural language processing, is quickly becoming the key user interface within the smart home.

AI-driven customer service applications also are becoming common.
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