If, in retrospect, in 2018 there seemed to be articles almost every day relating to the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its effect on jobs and the economy, we can reasonably expect to read even more this year. Investment in the sector is huge, with China, reportedly, leading the way, channeling as much as $10 billion annually into the field.
That has led, needless to say, to many apocalyptic articles suggesting that the age of the common worker is over. AI is expected, in the coming years, to automate millions, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of jobs. Some see mass unemployment as a natural corollary.
Within the next decade, AI is expected to be able to write a high school essay and drive vehicles better than a human being can, some analysts believe there is a 50% chance that AI will outperform all human tasks within 45 years and automate all jobs in the next century. Then again, as far back as the mid-1970s, a paperless office was predicted by 1990. Look around your office and see how far that idea has come.
The development of AI solutions in recent years has been extraordinary. Two years ago, Google’s DeepMind lab came up with a machine that could beat a professional player at the ancient board game Go. Called AlphaGo, it defeated the European champion Fan Hui by five games to zero. AlphaGo then beat Lee Sedol, the best Go player of the last decade. Senior AI experts had believed it would take another decade before a machine could solve the game which is incredibly difficult. Go is said to have more possible board positions than there are atoms in the universe. As a result, the best players are said to win using their intuition rather than sheer calculation. The unsentimental machine made moves that left the human beings – the researchers and players – bewildered, but also led them to think that the path to “superintelligence” may not be so far away after all.
I was reminded again of this fascinating topic this week – and the possible effect on the global diamond industry – by the announcement by Israeli technology company Sarine Technologies that it will inaugurate its new, fully automated diamond grading lab during the January 28-30 International Diamond Week in Israel (IDWI).
The launch of the only such facility based on artificial intelligence (AI) follows an initial pilot of the lab facility that opened in February 2018.
Photo © LFG.