Category: Disruptive Technology

14 Jan 2019
Disruptive technology to predict faults on train tracks and in stations

Disruptive technology to predict faults on train tracks and in stations

Train delays could be a thing of the past, thanks to a system that predicts when part of a train track, signaling equipment or other devices at a station are likely to fail. It does this by using thousands of sensors and 3-D modeling that taps into big data.

The system, currently in development, will also allow engineers to use Augmented Reality (AR) via a smartphone or a Head Mounted Display (HMD) to locate failing components or structure faults and read on-screen instructions in real-time to help them with repairs.

The project is a collaboration involving the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), smart engineering solutions company Costain and engineering technology start-up Enable My Team (EMT), which is the project lead.

A network of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors will initially be installed in 2019 in London Bridge Station, which is to be used as a test site. The sensors will gather data on tracks and station facilities, such as ventilation systems, barriers or lighting before sending it to a software called i-RAMP (IoT-enabled Platform for Rail Assets Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance).

The system will then use Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to analyse the data and to predict when a fault is likely to occur and highlights any stress points or component failures on a 3-D virtual model of the station and tracks.

It is set for completion in April 2020, after which it will be trialled with selected customers for up to nine months. Five other train stations in the UK have been approached to serve as testing sites for the technology. The roll-out of the scheme is planned for 2021.

Professor Lukumon Oyedele, Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Digital Innovation and Enterprise, who is the principal investigator on the project at UWE Bristol, said: “Every day in the UK, production is adversely affected by the hundreds of hours lost through train delays, often caused by faulty signal boxes or broken tracks.

The system will enable companies to fix a problem before it even becomes one, and at a time when commuting is not disrupted, all thanks to the IoT sensors in the station and on the track.”

IoT sensors can transmit a whole variety of data including vibration, strain or pressure on a structure, humidity or temperature. Using several such components will enable train companies and station managers to monitor many parts of a train network at the same time.

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06 Jan 2019
How project managers can harness the power of disruptive technologies

How project managers can harness the power of disruptive technologies

Technology is changing the way companies operate. In the modern business environment, the development of digital-age skills is important to project success

Disruptive technologies are reshaping industries and markets in unprecedented ways and at extraordinary speeds. The organisations that succeed in this environment are those that can adapt rapidly to new opportunities and challenges. Rather than only seeing threats, they recognise that disruptive technologies can, in fact, give them a competitive advantage.

We are clearly in a period of profound change for the workplace – and all strategic change in an organisation is delivered through projects and programmes. Project management, therefore, holds enormous value in helping organisations to leverage emerging technologies.

Artificial intelligence, for example, holds the promise of automating more routine aspects of work, such as tasks related to scheduling. This allows project managers more capacity to play greater strategic roles in their organisations.

Digital-age skills
Recent research clearly indicates that organisations can do more to strengthen their project management capabilities. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) 2018 Pulse of the Profession global survey, organisations waste an average of €99m for every €1bn invested in projects.

Organisations with cultures that embrace change are better positioned to succeed in a fast-paced and disruptive business environment

Too much money is being wasted on poor project performance for a few key reasons. We have found that organisations often don’t bridge the gap between strategy design and delivery. We have also noted that many executives fail to recognise that strategy is delivered through projects. As such, the importance of project management as the driver of an organisation’s strategy is not fully recognised in most cases.

Further, a recent Brightline Initiative study, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, showed that 59 percent of senior executives admitted their organisations struggle to bridge the strategy-implementation gap. As a result, only one in 10 organisations successfully reach all of their strategic goals. So, what can organisations do to more effectively execute their ideas and take advantage of emerging technologies?

Our research points to a few recommendations. PMI recently sought to understand how forward-thinking organisations successfully leverage disruptive technologies and manage their impact. In our most recent report, The Project Manager of the Future: Developing Digital-Age Project Management Skills to Thrive in Disruptive Times, we discovered that the successful management of disruptive technologies requires a ‘digital skill set’.

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02 Jan 2019

AI Will Create Millions More Jobs Than It Will Destroy. Here’s How

In the past few years, artificial intelligence has advanced so quickly that it now seems hardly a month goes by without a newsworthy AI breakthrough. In areas as wide-ranging as speech translation, medical diagnosis, and gameplay, we have seen computers outperform humans in startling ways.

This has sparked a discussion about how AI will impact employment. Some fear that as AI improves, it will supplant workers, creating an ever-growing pool of unemployable humans who cannot compete economically with machines.

This concern, while understandable, is unfounded. In fact, AI will be the greatest job engine the world has ever seen.

New Technology Isn’t a New Phenomenon

On the one hand, those who predict massive job loss from AI can be excused. It is easier to see existing jobs disrupted by new technology than to envision what new jobs the technology will enable.

But on the other hand, radical technological advances aren’t a new phenomenon. Technology has progressed nonstop for 250 years, and in the US unemployment has stayed between 5 to 10 percent for almost all that time, even when radical new technologies like steam power and electricity came on the scene.

But you don’t have to look back to steam, or even electricity. Just look at the internet. Go back 25 years, well within the memory of today’s pessimistic prognosticators, to 1993. The web browser Mosaic had just been released, and the phrase “surfing the web,” that most mixed of metaphors, was just a few months old.

If someone had asked you what would be the result of connecting a couple billion computers into a giant network with common protocols, you might have predicted that email would cause us to mail fewer letters, and the web might cause us to read fewer newspapers and perhaps even do our shopping online. If you were particularly farsighted, you might have speculated that travel agents and stockbrokers would be adversely affected by this technology. And based on those surmises, you might have thought the internet would destroy jobs.

But now we know what really happened. The obvious changes did occur. But a slew of unexpected changes happened as well. We got thousands of new companies worth trillions of dollars. We bettered the lot of virtually everyone on the planet touched by the technology. Dozens of new careers emerged, from web designer to data scientist to online marketer. The cost of starting a business with worldwide reach plummeted, and the cost of communicating with customers and leads went to nearly zero. Vast storehouses of information were made freely available and used by entrepreneurs around the globe to build new kinds of businesses.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Then along came a new, even bigger technology: artificial intelligence. You hear the same refrain: “It will destroy jobs.”

Consider the ATM. If you had to point to a technology that looked as though it would replace people, the ATM might look like a good bet; it is, after all, an automated teller machine. And yet, there are more tellers now than when ATMs were widely released. How can this be? Simple: ATMs lowered the cost of opening bank branches, and banks responded by opening more, which required hiring more tellers.

In this manner, AI will create millions of jobs that are far beyond our ability to imagine. For instance, AI is becoming adept at language translation—and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for human translators is skyrocketing. Why? If the cost of basic translation drops to nearly zero, the cost of doing business with those who speak other languages falls. Thus, it emboldens companies to do more business overseas, creating more work for human translators. AI may do the simple translations, but humans are needed for the nuanced kind.

In fact, the BLS forecasts faster-than-average job growth in many occupations that AI is expected to impact: accountants, forensic scientists, geological technicians, technical writers, MRI operators, dietitians, financial specialists, web developers, loan officers, medical secretaries, and customer service representatives, to name a very few. These fields will not experience job growth in spite of AI, but through it.

But just as with the internet, the real gains in jobs will come from places where our imaginations cannot yet take us.

Parsing Pessimism

You may recall waking up one morning to the news that “47 percent of jobs will be lost to technology.”

That report by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne is a fine piece of work, but readers and the media distorted their 47 percent number. What the authors actually said is that some functions within 47 percent of jobs will be automated, not that 47 percent of jobs will disappear.

Frey and Osborne go on to rank occupations by “probability of computerization” and give the following jobs a 65 percent or higher probability: social science research assistants, atmospheric and space scientists, and pharmacy aides. So what does this mean? Social science professors will no longer have research assistants? Of course they will. They will just do different things because much of what they do today will be automated.

The intergovernmental Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report of their own in 2016. This report, titled “The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries,” applies a different “whole occupations” methodology and puts the share of jobs potentially lost to computerization at nine percent. That is normal churn for the economy.

But what of the skills gap? Will AI eliminate low-skilled workers and create high-skilled job opportunities? The relevant question is whether most people can do a job that’s just a little more complicated than the one they currently have. This is exactly what happened with the industrial revolution; farmers became factory workers, factory workers became factory managers, and so on.

Embracing AI in the Workplace

A January 2018 Accenture report titled “Reworking the Revolution” estimates that new applications of AI combined with human collaboration could boost employment worldwide as much as 10 percent by 2020.

Electricity changed the world, as did mechanical power, as did the assembly line. No one can reasonably claim that we would be better off without those technologies. Each of them bettered our lives, created jobs, and raised wages. AI will be bigger than electricity, bigger than mechanization, bigger than anything that has come before it.

This is how free economies work, and why we have never run out of jobs due to automation. There are not a fixed number of jobs that automation steals one by one, resulting in progressively more unemployment. There are as many jobs in the world as there are buyers and sellers of labor.


26 Dec 2018

AI can help businesses stay ahead of the curve

Disruptive new-generation technologies are seen to have dramatically changed the way businesses run. Enterprises are considering realigning their strategies to retain their market position, and gain advantages through cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and IoT. Companies adopting the new-age exponential technologies earlier have a better chance of staying ahead of the curve and competition. With its potential to augment the capabilities of humans, and help businesses improve productivity, AI has the power to transform businesses across industries and sector.

In the wake of the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence and automation are the new norm for today’s enterprise. What once was a competitive edge is now becoming a prerequisite for business growth, efficiency and productivity. It is no longer enough to just implement AI; it is about ensuring that AI is effectively integrated across all business platforms.
The focus needs to move away from what technologies are being offered and instead focus on how these technologies are impacting a company’s specific use-cases and enhancing their outcomes. The goal should be to build an AI-enabled organisation and not look at AI as an add-on.

Organisations should look at building a robust AI strategy to imbibe AI in the way they operate. Forrester reports that 40 “insight-driven companies” are going to grab $1.8 trillion by 2021. In this list we have young companies that are less than 8 years old.

What unifies them? Their obsession with data and AI. There are essentially two types of organisations with respect to AI adoption — first, the “talkers”: there are organisations wetting their feet with AI initiatives taking small risk-averse steps in organisational silos and in some cases getting tangled by bureaucracies; and a minority few unfortunately focusing more on press coverage than actual outcome. Then the “Do-ers”: These are the insights-driven companies, that have integrated or are on ..

19 Dec 2018

Redesigning HR in the era of disruptive technologies

The third edition of FICCI HR Conference2018 debated and reviewed as to why a successful digital transformation sits at the heart of HR and how can the HR function be an evangelist for seeding cultural changes within organizations, and embrace the future looking technologies to successfully ride the wave of digitalization.

The digital age is moving at an unprecedented rate and is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate while necessitating HR executives to embrace disruption and redesign their talent management strategies to succeed. Digitalization has fundamentally reshaped value chains and altered consumer behaviors and expectations be it defense, education, financial services, government services, healthcare, IT & ITES, manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, telecommunications  – there is none who would, rather should be left behind. The payoffs arising out of it are phenomenal – from accelerated profitability, improved customer satisfaction to spikes in speed-to-market. But the most intriguing aspect is that this agenda is being driven from the top and is a top priority in most of the boardroom conversations.

However, it is equally important to note that any journey of successful digitalization in any organization goes beyond investment and technology. It actually rests on the most crucial function of the organization – the Human Resources. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recently hosted its third edition of HR Conference 2018 on the theme of “Redesigning HR in the era of the disruptive technology.” The event began with an inaugural session which saw an eclectic mix of speakers including Anna Roy, Advisor (DM&A, Industry), NITI Aayog, Ranjan Mohapatra, Director HR, Indian Oil Corporation, and Sreekanth Arimanithaya, Senior Vice President, Integrated Workforce Management and India Co-Managing Director, DXC Technologies.

Digitalization has fundamentally reshaped value chains and altered consumer behaviors and expectations, and there is none who would, rather should be left behind

Speaking at the conference, Anna Roy stated that “Today the use of disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is pervasive in all sectors and verticals. Human Resource, being one of most important vertical is bringing new opportunities to the fore and giving rise to new areas, leading to better results.” And this necessitates approaching and investing in new technologies as imperative to driving digital transformation. Experts attending the event also discussed the imperative to reskill the workforce and connect with the academia and other parts of the ecosystem to ensure that companies hire the right set of people to gain competitive advantage.

The conference also touched upon the various facets of digital transformation including how technologies like AI and Machine Learning are reshaping the employee lifecycle- recruitment, workforce planning, performance management, rewards, and engagement while integrating these elements with the uberization of work. The event also saw the launch of the report titled, “Are we ready for future?” by FICCI in partnership with Helix, which highlighted HR readiness for the new digital wave. The report revealed that organizations are confident to take the digital challenge but need to put some building blocks in place to focus on strategic benefits. The report also mentioned that HR executives need to see Digital HR as a means to achieve operational efficiency and a tool for better decision making.

The third edition of FICCI HR Conference 2018 was filled with rich content mixed with power packed sessions with live examples, case studies involving practitioners, experts from across industry ensuring take away for everyone. The event reiterated the mantra that the cohesive and collective efforts of both Business and HR are crucial for transformation in the digital era.


10 Dec 2018
Manahel Thabet

MSPs Must Prepare For These Three Most-Disruptive Technologies

The world’s three most-disruptive technologies are changing the game and creating a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for solution providers that can help customers embrace that change, says futurist Ian Kahn.

The world’s three most-disruptive technologies will “drive the future” and create unprecedented opportunities for managed service providers willing to explore new practices and vendor alliances, said Ian Kahn, a well-known futurist, speaking to attendees of the of the NexGen 2018 Conference & Expo.

Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things—all technologies powered by the cloud—are evolving at a mind-bogglingly rapid pace, disrupting not only industries and markets, but dinner table conversations, Kahn said Sunday at the event hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company in Anaheim, Calif.

“I suggest that you think about the future based on these three technologies,” Khan told the cloud-focused partners in the audience.

The never-before-seen pace of innovation has humanity on a trajectory where, within a few decades, computers will surpass the “thinking power” of all human beings, changing the world in more ways than most of us can imagine.

“As technologists, we have to accept this and help our customers understand that change is happening really, really fast,” he said.

That process might be as basic as convincing those customers it’s time to adopt cloud computing, he said.

“We have to be ready for this era … we are the ones responsible for this era,” he said.

Artificial intelligence, both in augmenting and automating human tasks, is gaining attention for use cases such as self-driving cars and natural-language comprehension.

For MSPs, that technology, still in its early days, can deliver faster customer service, conflict resolution, Service Level Agreement management and other business-enabling capabilities.

But so far, only about 1 to 2 percent of the industry has embraced AI to power its own operations, Khan said.

“All here should be first to raise hands and say ‘we’re experimenting with it,'” he told NexGen attendees. “Before we sell it to our clients, we take the plunge.”

Blockchain, another technology disrupting the world, should allow everyone “to take a deep breath,” Khan said.

“Blockchain is about creating peace of mind,” he said of the technology poised to revolutionize shipping and logistics, infrastructure management, financial services, and food chain safety and reliability.

Blockchain, as opposed to traditional databases, replicates information across its network, enabling trust. The technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin delivers a “central thread of truth that binds all different data points together,” he said, “and that was missing in the past.”

Most MSPs, however, aren’t doing anything with blockchain just yet, and rightfully so.

It’s “too new, too disruptive, too complex,” Khan said.

They should be prepared for that to change, however, with many different things happening relevant to services providers, including large vendors introducing blockchain-as-a-service solutions.

“You might see a lot more happening in that space,” Khan told NexGen attendees. “There are still many unknowns that we need to figure out.”

The Internet of Things is another disruptor that poses a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for the channel.

The technology driving a massive flow of data from connected devices is growing to a combined market of $520 billion by 2021—and that involves a $79 billion managed services play.

“That’s a good amount of business that you can be part of,” Khan said.

As all those changes are happening, MSPs must pick their targets.

“You can’t be on top of all of them,” Khan said, “It’s impossible.”

Instead, the channel must work collaboratively and collectively, Khan said.

“With peers and competition and industry, we have to work together in a way we’ve never done before,” he told NexGen attendees.

Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, told CRN that Kahn’s presentation highlighted how “trust is moving from people and organizations to technologies.”

“This creates opportunities but also risk,” Falcon told.

And adoption of those three disruptive technologies has a broader impact than simply business, Falcon said.

“It is societal and will require a renewed focus on ethics,” Falcon said.

Mark Fielding, partners and sales, at Vation Ventures, a Denver-based channel strategy firm that advises enterprise tech vendors and solution providers, said he sees the need for MSPs to find sufficient time to invest in exploring emerging technologies.

MSPs and VARs need to “find ways to take pragmatic steps to innovate for their clients,” he said.

“It’s not an overnight process,” Fielding said. “They need to understand how emerging tech relates to their clients specifically, how it addresses their clients’ needs,” Fielding said.

Nevertheless, with technology evolving so fast, solution providers have to move as quickly as possible, Khan said.

“If you’re doing that, you will be highly successful,” Khan said.


09 Dec 2018
The Five Most Worrying Trends in Artificial Intelligence RigThe Five Most Worrying Trends in Artificial Intelligence Right Nowht Now

The Five Most Worrying Trends in Artificial Intelligence Right Now

Artificial intelligence is already beginning to spiral out of our control, a new report from top researchers warns. Not so much in a Skynet kind of sense, but more in a ‘technology companies and governments are already using AI in ways that amp up surveillance and further marginalize vulnerable populations’ kind of way.

On Thursday, the AI Now Institute, which is affiliated with New York University and is home to top AI researchers with Google and Microsoft, released a report detailing, essentially, the state of AI in 2018, and the raft of disconcerting trends unfolding in the field. What we broadly define as AI—machine learning, automated systems, etc.—is currently being developed faster than our regulatory system is prepared to handle, the report says. And it threatens to consolidate power in the tech companies and oppressive governments that deploy AI while rendering just about everyone else more vulnerable to its biases, capacities for surveillance, and myriad dysfunctions.

The report contains 10 recommendations for policymakers, all of which seem sound, as well as a diagnosis of the most potentially destructive trends. “Governments need to regulate AI,” the first recommendation exhorts, “by expanding the powers of sector-specific agencies to oversee, audit, and monitor these technologies by domain.” One massive Department of AI or such that attempts to regulate the field writ large won’t cut it, researchers warn—the report suggests regulators follow examples like the one set by the Federal Aviation Administration and tackle AI as it manifests field by field.

But it also conveys a the succinct assessment of the key problem areas in AI as they stand in 2018. As detailed by AI Now, they are:

  1. The accountability gap between those who build the AI systems (and profit off of them) and those who stand to be impacted by the systems (you and me) is growing. Don’t like the idea of being subjected to artificially intelligent systems that harvest your personal data or determine various outcomes for you? Too bad! The report finds that the recourse most public citizens have to address the very artificially intelligent systems that may impact them is shrinking, not growing.
  2. AI is being used to amplify surveillance, often in horrifying ways. If you think the surveillance capacities of facial recognition technology are disturbing, wait till you see its even less scrupulous cousin, affect recognition. The Intercept’s Sam Biddle has a good write-up of the report’s treatment of affect recognition, which is basically modernized phrenology, practiced in real time.
  3. The government is embracing autonomous decision software in the name of cost-savings, but these systems are often a disaster for the disadvantaged. From systems that purport to streamline benefits application processes online to those that claim to be able to determine who’s eligible for housing, so-called ADS systems are capable of uploading bias and erroneously rejecting applicants on baseless grounds. As Virginia Eubanks details in her book Automating Inequality, the people these systems fail are those who are least able to muster the time and resources necessary to address them.
  4. AI testing “in the wild” is rampant already. “Silicon Valley is known for its ‘move fast and break things’ mentality,” the report notes, and that is leading to companies testing AI systems in the public sector—or releasing them into the consumer space outright—without substantial oversight. The recent track record of Facebook—the original move fast, break thingser and AI evangelist—alone is example enough of why this strategy can prove disastrous.
  5. Technological fixes to biased or problematic AI systems are proving inadequate. Google made waves when it announced it was tackling the ethics of machine learning, but efforts like these are already proving too narrow and technically oriented. Engineers tend to think they can fix engineering problems with, well, more engineering. But what is really required, the report argues, is a much deeper understanding of the history and social contexts of the datasets AI systems are trained on.

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05 Dec 2018
Manahel Thabet

Coats Group investing US$5mln in “disruptive technology” that could revolutionise the thread industry

Twine has developed a proprietary digital thread dyeing system, allowing thread to be produced on demand at any colour and length.

Rajiv Sharma, Coats’ group chief executive, commented: “This is an exciting and innovative strategic move”

Coats Group PLC (LON:COA) is investing US$5mln in a “disruptive technology” that it believes has the potential to revolutionise the thread industry.

The FTSE 250-listed industrial thread manufacturer is paying the money for a 9.5% share in Israeli-based technology start-up Twine Solutions.

It also said it will get a seat on the board of Twine, which has developed a proprietary digital thread dyeing system, allowing thread to be produced on demand in any colour and length.

Rajiv Sharma, Coats’ group chief executive, commented: ‘This is an exciting and innovative strategic move. We are investing in future technology which will improve our industry and its sustainability by directly addressing the key needs of our customers: speed, innovation and sustainability.”

He added: “The disruptive technology has the potential to revolutionise the thread industry and Coats will work closely with Twine to commercialise this opportunity.”

In early afternoon trading, Coats shares were 0.3% lower at 80.70p.


03 Dec 2018

Global Financial Services Bullish On AI, The ‘Disruptive Tech’ Frontrunner

While around two-thirds (65%) of senior financial services industry decision makers globally are “bullish” on so-called disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotics and see them as having “a positive impact” on their business in the future, a new study reveals only a third (33%) indicate these technologies are being deployed today.

And, with just one in three firms acknowledging that they have reached implementation stage as regards these disruptive technologies despite all the noise and hype around them, widescale adoption is yet to come. That said, there could be some big changes ahead for roles in accounting, compliance and operations.

The findings, which sought to identify the “value-add” delivered by new technologies now and in the future, were derived from interviews with over 500 executives covering the asset management sector, corporate, capital markets and private wealth sectors based in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.

Instead of accelerating towards a technology driven future, the study conducted by Intertrust, listed on Euronext and global provider of expert administrative services to clients operating and investing in the international business environment that services six of the top 10 companies in the Fortune 500, has suggested the industry is taking a “more measured approach” to matters.

Among those canvassed, 65% of respondents believe disruptive technology will deliver the most value by driving back-end operational efficiencies, particularly in areas such as KYC reporting, due diligence and compliance.

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01 Dec 2018
Manahel Thabet

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Built On Blockchain And Advanced With AI

Blockchain technology is so synonymous with cryptocurrencies, and especially Bitcoin that it is almost like the financial sector has usurped its potential. In times like these, where an investing bear market has befallen the cryptocurrency space, it is easy to get down on the revolutionary possibilities of blockchain technology.

Since the original Blockchain, that is Bitcoin, emerged, there has been a considerable focus on transactional blockchains which have been at the forefront of the mainstream understanding of the technology. Bitcoin is often the layman’s first point of call with the stories of investing success stories obscuring the view of other possibilities.

However, blockchain technology is moving along in an undercurrent separate from the comings and goings of the cryptocurrency market and the financial interest it has garnered in just a few short years.

Ethereum and smart contracts have taken blockchain technology to a second generation where many different sectors are in the sights of its potential disruption. Even a third generation is being bandied about, with regards to Directed Acylic Graphs, but the fourth generation – which will be an essential part of the fourth industrial revolution – will need the help of some similar revolutionary technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been cutting a distinct but similar path through the nascent stage of technology development. Its uses and adoption have been growing, and its implementation has reached a critical point.