AI is here, and it’s being used across industries to streamline processes, eliminate inefficiencies and, in some cases, save lives.
Speaking at the 2018 Synapse Innovation Summit in Tampa, Fla., Dr. Bernard Meyerson, the chief innovation officer of IBM, said that AI shouldn’t stand for artificial intelligence, but instead for “accessible intelligence.”
Artificial intelligence, Meyerson said, comes with a stigma. Often, people think of the Terminator when they hear the term, but AI is much more than that.
“AI is not about computers or humans,” Meyerson said. “Human plus machine is really what drives progress here.”
He outlined two programs IBM assisted in that resulted in positive outcomes.
One program was implemented at the University of Ontario’s hospital to study data on premature babies, who are more likely to get sepsis – something referred to as “baby crashing.” It’s difficult to detect when these babies get sepsis, many times until it’s too late.
Researchers compared blood oxygenation with blood pressure to predict this, and also looked at heart rate variability, along with other information. By using data to analyze the babies, AI was able to predict which ones were at risk up to 24 hours before experienced ICU nurses could tell.
Using Predictive Analytics to Save Rhinos
In another case, IBM assisted in developing an AI program for Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa to help protect endangered rhinoceroses. According to IBM, if rhinoceros poaching continues at its current rate, rhinos could be extinct within a decade. More than 7,000 were killed over the past 10 years. In 2016, 1,000 were killed in South Africa alone.
Meyerson said the poachers are motivated by money, as one rhino horn can fetch a vast sum on the black market. The horn’s value derives from the fact that many people still believe the unproven legend that it conveys healing powers.
Taking this into consideration, IBM, along with a few other companies, created a program connected to the internet of things that uses predictive analytics to fight poaching.
They placed collars on prey animals like zebras and impalas – but not the rhinos, which were left out purposely so their whereabouts couldn’t be tracked. By assessing how the animals react to various situations, like potential poachers, AI can analyze the data and alert game reserve staff, giving them a chance to proactively respond to a situation.
“If you don’t have some assistance from an automated system, it’s hopeless,” Meyerson said, regarding the importance on integrating AI. “The opportunity is there. You simply need to take advantage of it.”
Using proactive analytics is a relatively new idea, but it can assist in helping other endangered animals as well, according to IBM – and the scope of these analytics is vast, whether it be in healthcare or helping animals. AI is working to save lives, but it’s important that analysts know what they are looking for.
“You will each generate the equivalent of 300 million books of data in your life,” Meyerson said. “If you don’t understand what you’re looking at, the price of not understanding will be extreme. It is one thing to manage risk, it is quite another thing to systematically eliminate it. AI, done correctly, should just vanish.”
The field of analytics continues to evolve, and the examples from IBM and Meyerson show that it’s an exciting time to jump into the field. Earning an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics can give people the skills and tools they need to work to make a difference in the world.