The Greatest Tech Revolution of our Time

This post was written by Vicente Goetten, Executive Director at TOTVS Labs.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, the process of buying and selling stocks was completely different from what we know today. The internet was only available at U.S. universities for professors and researchers, and home brokers didn’t even exist yet (1).

Before the internet became available to the general population, an investor would get information about which company to invest in by checking newspapers or going to the library and reading books about potential companies. After enough research, the investor would call a broker, who would execute the transaction through traders, who would dictate to either buy or sell the stocks.

Today it is different. Using the internet, we can literally buy and sell stocks from anywhere in the world using our smartphones. We also have access to a wealth of information about companies and their performance without the need to go to the library (or reading the newspaper). This is all a result of exponential technologies, in particular computing and network.

To take it even further, 80% of all stock transactions and derivatives in the U.S.(2) are now done by algorithms that use artificial intelligence to decide when to buy or sell. This change is brought on by a second exponential technology that will transform not only the world of Finance, but all industries and several (if not all) aspects of our lives: artificial intelligence.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence is a combination of techniques and algorithms that aim to train machines to have the same capacities as humans, such as logical reasoning, planning, natural language processing, perception and general intelligence. One of the most prominent techniques of artificial intelligence is Machine Learning, more specifically Deep Learning.(3)

The Artificial Intelligence revolution is not very far away — it’s happening right now. Today, there are hundreds of products that we do not realize on the market that are using AI. Siri, the personal assistant from Apple; Pinterest, when it finds similar products for you; or Google Photo, when it organizes our photos (by implementing a facial recognition that automatically groups together photos of people). All of these have AI working behind the scenes.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence for business will be equal, if not more impactful, than it has been on the internet and mobile. 
Here are a few examples of industries that are being transformed by artificial intelligence:

Agriculture

AgTech platforms have started helping producers and engineers in Agriculture make decisions on when to plant, harvest, or what items to use on crops.

Logistics and Transportation

In Mountain View, where the TOTVS Labs HQ is based, we see autonomous cars driving down the streets every day. Most likely, by 2020 we’ll see millions of autonomous cars on the roads around the world.(4) And it won’t only be cars, but trains, busses, and other modes of transportation — all driven by AI powered robots.

Health and Biotech

In the health sector, artificial intelligence has helped doctors and patients get quicker and more accurate diagnoses. One of the main achievements is the ability to detect cancer through patient blood samples.(5) A giant mass of data is analyzed in order to find specific patterns. AI can also identify genetic patterns that help us better understand diseases.(6)

Retail

Making sales predictions and identifying the right product for a specific client is one of the areas in which artificial intelligence is at work today. Companies like Amazon use AI to determine if a book will be successful even before its official release.(7) Another excellent application for retail (and other sectors) is inventory optimization, where AI can help a company predict sales and determine how much inventory they should have.

Education

AI can be used in Education to help identify if a student is on the edge of dropping out of school or a particular class, determine which classes to offer to a student, or even create custom classes to optimize student learning.

Financial Services

Artificial Intelligence can be used to better identify the potential risk a client could bring to a financial institution, predict market patterns and their consequences, recommend operations, and, as we’ve seen before, execute these operations.

Manufacturing and Supply Chain

Manufacturing companies can use AI to identify products and parts that need maintenance before a problem occurs, decide how much they need to buy or produce based on need and availability, and prevent risk for suppliers.

Virtual assistants

Virtual assistants are already part of all of our lives, and they will be even more present in the near future. In the next few years, banks will have virtual assistants who can help us perform operations or answer questions without any human involvement. They will also help us plan trips and arrange details like our flight, hotel and transportation.

Some of the cases mentioned above are real applications that TOTVS Labs has been working on with our customers. Over the past few years, TOTVS Labs has concentrated on developing a platform that combines data (with quality) and artificial intelligence.

Just as the internet revolutionized all industries, artificial intelligence can potentially transform how businesses operate, even what we do in our daily lives. AI will soon be just like the internet today — widely used and present wherever we go. We probably won’t see a single application or process that doesn’t take advantage of Artificial Intelligence, possibly making it the greatest technological revolution of our time.


References

  1. How The Internet Has Changed Investing: http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0212/how-the-internet-has-changed-investing.aspx
  2. Narang, Rishi K. (2013–03–20). Inside the Black Box: A Simple Guide to Quantitative and High Frequency Trading (Wiley Finance)
  3. AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning: A Primer http://a16z.com/2016/06/10/ai-deep-learning-machines/
  4. 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020 http://www.businessinsider.com/report-10-million-self-driving-cars-will-be-on-the-road-by-2020-2015-5-6
  5. Artificial Intelligence Helps Diagnose Cancer http://www.popsci.com/artificial-intelligence-helps-diagnose-cancer
  6. https://23andme.com/
  7. Choudary, Sangeet Paul; Van Alstyne, Marshall W.; Parker, Geoffrey G. (2016–03–28). Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy — and How to Make Them Work for You. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.