Artificial intelligence in Ireland was a key focus of the Accenture’s annual Technology Vision 2017 report. The stats highlight some interesting views on both the current status of AI in Irish technology and its future.
It says that 71% of Irish customers surveyed said that they believed AI was the future for customer interactions and data. 25% went on to say it could be transformative for the nation.
For many companies looking into the future of AI in Ireland, the main interests here are language processing and the way that machines learn. The former is vital for a better understanding of natural voice patterns.
This means many are keen to see programs like IPsoft’s Amelia in call center services. There is also need to continue research and development into more sophisticated tech and responses.
A large part of this artificial intelligence revolution in Ireland is visible in healthcare.
Five of the top ten startup companies in Dublin in 2016 were in the digital health industry. There is no national electronic health record in Ireland yet. There are areas where the industry excels and areas for improvement.
One of the ways that it excels is through the work of eHealth. These projects bring tech and artificial intelligence to diverse facilities. This includes the eHealth Epilepsy Lighthouse Project, which is now working to sequence the genome for the condition. eHealth also has an app for bipolar sufferers that talks to them and gauges their mood.
Still, there are clear areas that can benefit from greater tech. The company recently visited all of Ireland’s maternity hospitals to see where help was most in need.
There is the plan to ensure that every cot for a newborn in these hospitals has separate respiration, temperature and heart rate monitors. This also includes effective data transfer to tablets.
The theory is that streamlined data processing and the clear chart will make it easier to see problems and offer solutions. Another area of interest here is IBM’s Watson system.
IBM’s Watson works within healthcare diagnostics. There are claims that it diagnosed a rare form of leukaemia in a hospital in Japan. Doctors had found themselves stumped by the illness, but the AI figured it out.
The databank and processing speed of the computer meant that it could go deeper into data with greater speed. When researchers say greater speed, it is easy to underplay the impact.
Doctors working on this patients for a long time give the case to Waston, who then solves it in 10 minutes. This futuristic Japanese tech is not all that futuristic this time, as AI is now implemented into hospitals in the UK and Ireland.
It can help in any system that could benefit from a faster thought process, where humans cannot meet the requirements.
A trial example of this in the UK is Olivia, a virtual nurse on the Sensely smartphone app. She has the knowledge to help with triage and general care.
Also, there is a blend between the robotic nature that makes her on-call 24/7 and a demeanour that is oddly comforting for interactions.
The only issue here is in taking up and accepting new AI tech and futuristic tools.
There are always going to be concerned over compatibility issues. This means that some companies may be wary or taking the leap into new ground. Someone always has to go first and test out the potential of these products.
For some, this could mean some teething problems with the new approaches, the data provided and privacy issues. There are some areas where this is more of a gamble than others.
Nanotechnology, consumer goods and communications systems can afford a trial period of unsteady Beta testing. This isn’t the case with healthcare apps where patients could be a risk.
Still, there is no doubt that there is a lot of potential in Ireland’s artificial intelligence industry, whether companies like it or not. The rate of change is sure to be impressive, especially with agencies like eHealth bringing AI into the hospital on a national level.
There is a clear desire to keep up with AI development here, either through a desire to progress or a desire not to fall behind. Soon, AI will integrate into so many companies that it is almost second nature.