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The applications of artificial intelligence

More than two years ago, towards the end of a meeting about bringing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to online selling platforms through the advocation of New Retail O2O concept, David (not his real name) showed me something extraordinary.

On the latest LED TV screen, I was surprised that an image of me walking into the office was captured on the artificial intelligence-led CCTV with super clarity!

The image came with this description:

Date: 27.11.2016

Time: 16.38

Object: Man

Age: 40-50 years old

Status: Uncle

Emotion: Happy

I was amused. What? Uncle? What a joke, as I read about myself on the TV screen. It then struck me that even I did not know what kind of emotion I had when I was entering David’s office at that moment. And, I couldn’t even hide my age as the AI reading revealed my age range.


Again, David showed me another reading during the meeting when I walked out from the meeting room to take a phone call near the office entrance. The reading was as follows:

Time: 17.07

Object: Man

Age: 40-50 years old

Status: Uncle

Emotion: Anxious

I was again amazed. Anxious? How can this machine read me when I am exposed to the camera?

Gaining traction

Like it or not, AI face recognition is already part of our life and has started to gain traction in this part of the world along with the US and China.

Another example of the application of AI is when Cantopop singer and entertainer from Hong Kong, Jacky Cheung, had a series of world tour concerts last year. In his China shows, the AI CCTV at the sites of the concert helped the Chinese police to recognise the faces and gestures of fugitives.

A fugitive was arrested by the police at the concert when the CCTV captured his image. The man, however, begged the police officers to only arrest him after the concert!

Amazingly, the AI CCTV at Jackie Cheung’s concert had enabled the authorities to capture more than 100 wanted men in China!

No longer a theory, the power of AI recognition is already making a storm in our life.

What is AI?

In general, Malaysians are not aware of the presence of AI in our daily life.

Workers, from blue-collar to white-collar top executives and even policymakers, are not aware of the progress of AI. Even the majority of the population do not know the full meaning of AI.

When AI was introduced in 1956, there was a wave of optimism but this dwindled into stagnation and lack of funding for the technology to be developed further.

AI is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behaviour in computers and the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour.

AI machine mimics cognitive functions of a human being to develop learning and problem-solving solutions.

The studies of AI can be in cognitive science, engineering, ethics, linguistics, logic, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy, physiology, psychology, and statistics.

It should be exhibited by thinking, making decisions, solving problems, and more importantly, by learning.

With AI, it is believed that machines can be made self-aware with human-like intelligence, in which the computer program thinks and reasons at the level of a human being.

Likewise, non-human-like AI, in which the computer program develops thinking and reasoning.

Facial recognition, voice recognition, chat bot, machine translator, robotics – these AI techniques are used to solve many real-life problems like robots helping to find landmines, searching for humans trapped in rubble due to natural disaster, cleaning the town hall’s underground drainage and the list goes on.

Fast adoption

According to a McKenzie report, AI’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth will be 1.2% yearly over the next 10 years, while the world economic contribution will be US$10 tril. AI is like the steam revolution where some 70% of companies will adopt at least one AI application.

It is said that AI will replace 70% of human jobs. Employees are anxious that their jobs would soon be replaced by AI-led instruments or robots. Should they embrace the AI adoption?

As for SMEs, they are still wondering how AI could help them to make money.

Essentially, there are four kinds of AI applications:

1. Internet AI

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube – the AI keeps our eyeballs preoccupied.

For example, NBA and Shark Tank videos keep appearing on my smartphone and computer, inducing me to watch the programmes.

“Scroll, Watch, Like, Share” is becoming the compilation of Big Data. AI Deep Learning segments the search history and user’s interest and implant the advertisements while watching the video or scroll for information, sub-consciously seducing the audience’s purchase desire.

2. Finance AI

The finance sector is using AI to evaluate the loan applications and credit rating of companies and applicants. It tracks all possible information online in terms of the repayment track records of credit cards, car loans, house loans, etc.

It includes the past transactions of the companies and applicants that to be trawled by AI deep learning.

For judges and lawyers, AI can help them to easily search for past cases at the click of a button.

3. AI recognition

Facial recognition can help a traditional business become a precision marketing model to monitor buyer behaviour and satisfaction.

Through facial expression, the AI technology can detect and determine a shop’s appeal, a product’s attraction and the level of customer satisfaction.

Likewise, the daily footfall of customers in a retail shop can be easily recorded, the preferred shelf level, colours, designs and even the gender of the patrons can be easily read by AI-type CCTV.

Recently, budget airline AirAsia announced the adoption of AI facial recognition management system to enhance its efficiency and security control efficacy.

4. Self AI

China had adopted the electric car technology since years ago. I have ridden in the electric car taxi in Shenzhen and Hangzhou a couple of times. A chat with the drivers revealed that they have driven the said cars for at least three years and they are satisfied with the performance of the China-made electric cars.

The electric cars are equipped with AI voice recognition to start the car and operate the GPS, audio, etc.

AI application is not about the future, it is happening now and is transforming our lifestyle for good reasons. FocusM

Neil Foo is the Malaysian representative of APEC SME Forum


Neil Foo

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