The ship has finally landed. Or perhaps it’s actually sailed?

Whichever way you see it, 2023 will no doubt be earmarked in the annals of history because we can count ourselves as the first humans to witness the true birth of Artificial Intelligence. Not only has the tech finally matured, but various permutations of its complex tools have become freely available for the public to use.

Before we get into the specifics of these emerging innovations, it’s important to clarify that AI is not a single technology, but rather a rough grouping of machine or deep learnings.

In that sense, there are many guises for AI and of course, various uses.

So instead of just talking about text generators (such as ChatGPT) or image generators (although immensely intriguing), we should also look to other ways AI is being deployed and put to use in either existing or brand new technologies.

1) Explainable AI

At present, there is a lot of guesswork in terms of exactly how an AI tool arrives at its conclusions. For example, if you ask ChatGPT a question, you may receive a satisfactory answer. However, you are left in the dark as to the reasoning or background information of the content you receive.

To overcome this, in newer iterations of artificial intelligence software, we’re likely to see a lot more emphasis on ‘explainability’. By revealing sources and logic, we’ll have greater transparency around the machinations and reasoning being employed in AI responses.

2) Healthcare applications

In various semblances, AI is now being used to deliver better healthcare treatments, processes, and outcomes. As a direct result, we’re going to see a range of cutting-edge healthcare applications including disease detection, new drug discovery, highly personalised medicine, and better prediction of patient outcomes.

To undertake more thorough research or reach better conclusions, researchers are also likely to increasingly capitalise on AI’s ability to sort through swathes of health data.

3) Automated driving and vehicles

We’re already seeing AI being used to enable automated driving – Tesla in particular is ahead of the pack on this one. But as AI advances, automated driving will likely become safer and smarter. After all, you need AI to be able to monitor other vehicles and obstructions, process complex environmental data, make swift and safe decisions, and adapt to shifting conditions.

4) Natural language processing

Natural language processing or NLP is set to grow in leaps and bounds. We’re already seeing chatbots and language generators skyrocket in terms of realism and how well they can mimic nuances in language. It’s perhaps even a little frightening when you realise that very soon, if not already, you may not be able to discern whether you’re chatting with a machine or a human…

5) New AI-ready hardware

The amount of processing power that will be required for advanced AI tools will soon outstrip our current available hardware. But in these times, that may not be a huge setback, as the next generation of computing hardware such as GPUs (graphics processing units) and TPUs (tensor processing units) enter the arena.

Hardware developments will be necessary to accelerate AI training and inference tasks. Alongside these updates will likely be better storage and a whole range of new chips and processors. Strangely, AI may even be used to figure out how to develop such hardware…

6) More responsible AI and potential legal frameworks

One of the largest fears out there right now is that the development of AI tools has quickly superseded our management of such tech. There’s a lot of push from industries and governments to create more responsible and ethically developed AI tools with great thought towards accountability and conditions of use.

Of course, this may necessitate new laws that attempt to govern the landscape, potentially in the form of imposed limits or disclaimers on generative content.

7) AI-enhanced education

While a lot of universities and schools are rapidly trying to quash the use of text generators like ChatGPT (which could constitute cheating) we’re also going to clock a lot of other education ‘enhancements’ for better or worse.

In the not-too-distant future, we could be seeing personalised learning and specifically trained chatbots. Smart AI-led learning content could also soon ease administrative burdens on teachers by generating resources such as voice guides and offering more efficient ways to research and process educational sources and information.

8) Advanced robotics

Ah yes, the extra pair of hands we’ve been waiting for – AI bots!

Of course, Terminator’s Skynet will come to mind here but it’s true that AI is already being used to ‘power’ robots of all descriptions. This space is pipped to explode as the technology matures.

Much like autonomous vehicles, the next generation of robots will become more environmentally aware, better decision-makers (learning from inefficiencies), and essentially more capable and autonomous. Applications for such AI-fuelled robots span a huge number of industries, from manufacturing to logistics and even age care.

Well, science fiction did warn us after all.