What embryonic and developing technology today will become mainstream before you’re ready to pass on the company to your kids? With all of the developing technologies, which ones will become the most relevant to contractors?
These questions were prompted by an article I recently read in MIT Technology Review titled “50 Smartest Companies 2017”. It stands to reason that smart companies like these would be working on technological advances that we’ll see in the near future. Looking through the list I simply added up how many different companies were working on the same technology. Not highly scientific, but after all, it is MIT.
Here’s what I found:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) - 14
Genetics / DNA - 7
Biotech - 7
Virtual Reality - 5
Automatic Driving - 5
Energy Solar - 2
Energy Wind - 2
The next magazine I picked up that same day was Fortune (March 2017). Two articles caught my eye: “Betting on AI” and “It’s Time to Take AI Seriously.” Seriously, talk about serendipity. If I would’ve asked for one more sign as to what to write about, a typewriter might have fallen from the sky queued up with a paper on artificial intelligence.
The intent today is to bring general awareness to technologies that we might reasonably see emerging in our industries and take a closer look at one - artificial intelligence. Other than not wanting that typewriter to come crashing down, AI is the logical choice. It’s already infiltrated building controls and residential thermostats like Nest.
The term artificial intelligence was coined in 1956. So we’re not talking about an embryonic technology but it is certainly developing - rapidly. What AI is and what falls under its umbrella has been hotly debated. For instance, voice and face recognition both were considered subfields of AI. Technically they still are but as each discipline becomes understood they become known for their individual names and distance themselves from the AI moniker.
What is AI?
AI is about simulating intelligent behavior in machines. The term artificial intelligence is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that we associate with other human minds such as learning and problem solving.
Not only is AI in a host of different industries, but depending upon the company, it’s in a host of different operations and departments. With that type of infiltration and exposure, how does one begin to get a foothold of understanding it?
Start at home
There is a good chance you are already involved with AI in your personal life or with something at work that you can get your mind around. Experts recommend starting there; as an example, Nest thermostats. At this point we’re just looking for basic intel, not to re engineer the technology.
With AI being so pervasive, it’s better for us to narrow our view. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. Our gateway to the future is found in the marriage of AI, which is about simulating intelligent behavior in machines (objects) and the IoT, which is about connecting those machines.
Matt Michel provides a superb example from the Plumbing industry in Contractor.
Be on the lookout for objects, machines and devices in your industry that are connected to the internet, accumulating data and making adjustments without your involvement.
Perhaps with your knowledge combined with an applications engineer you’ll be able to create technology that will hire personnel, give coworker reviews and design succession plans.
Save the date for Service World Expo, the bold, must-attend conference, trade show, and networking event for residential contractors involved in Plumbing, HVAC or Electrical service who want to ignite growth and performance in their companies. Held on Sept 7-8, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, the event will encompass compelling content, cutting edge educational breakouts, a product showcase that is more tailgate party than tradeshow and out of this world entertainment events. For more information on Service World Expo, visit www.ServiceWorldExpo.com, email [email protected], or call 844.742.3970.