Around the Corner: AI’s Impact on Local Commerce

In its launch of its new Pixel phone, Google harkened to artificial intelligence (AI) as its future. IBM, Microsoft and Apple have made noises in the same direction.

Clearly, the software giants hope that their scale in developing AI will give them a leg up on the next wave of tech drivers. What’s involved? Here’s my short list: Connected cars, custom learning and entertainment, mobile/ instant communications, business services, shopping, payments, virtual/ augmented reality and targeted media.

But when is “artificial intelligence” really more than the sum of its parts? As noted by a new White House report, Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence, AI constitutes a comprehensive, synergistic vision made up of four key pieces:

(1) Systems that think like humans (e.g., cognitive architectures and neural networks)

(2) Systems that act like humans (e.g., pass the Turing test via natural language processing; knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and learning)

(3) Systems that think rationally (e.g.,logic solvers, inference, and optimization)

(4) Systems that act rationally (e.g., intelligent software agents and embodied robots that achieve goals via perception, planning, reasoning, learning, communicating, decision-making, and acting).

A lot of it is already here. Sub-fields of the broad AI vision are already being applied in programmatic ad buying services, marketing automation, predictive leads, chatbots, voice commands, mapping, and electronic calendars.

Your phone is already telling you the weather when you pull up your flight reservation, right? We’ll see a lot more impact on local services in the not too distant future, as AI ties together data, identification services, geographic indicators, graphic processors and Bluetooth.

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