“It’s time to fire up your strategic thinking about the era of intelligent machines!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Machines that see. Machines that walk. Machines that talk. Machines that sense. Machines that hear. Machines that think.
We’re on the edge of a remarkable new era. It’s not going to be like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons, but there is something powerful going on.
The other day I filmed a short clip about the trend I see unfolding in my business as the number of speaking engagements continues to ramp up. What has become clear to me is that senior executives in many organizations are now realizing that their exposure to ChatGPT and other large language models barely scratches the surface of how AI is going to affect their organization.
They are realizing they need to know more, at a strategic level, about things like machine visions, cooperative robots (cobots), and all the other big AI Megatrends. My focus on this from well over a year ago with my research and marketing material was bang on.
Indeed, for close to two years, I’ve been banging out the message that AI is bigger than many people think it is.
I certainly nailed that!
That’s why I’ve been starting many of my recent keynotes showing the video of the Google DeepMind RT-2 AI for Robots, which is a fascinating project that brings multiple aspects of AI together. Essentially, a large language model (LLM) is used to ask the AI to identify a distinct animal and move it to the side. The reasoning engine correctly figures out that it’s a dinosaur, uses machine vision to identify it, and an advanced robotic arm to grab it and move it.
That might not seem like much, but it is a pretty significant and bold leap forward, because it brings together multiple aspects of AI, showing our path forward into the future. Some months back, I wrote that the real magic with AI comes when we begin to chat with the machine, and that’s what’s happening with this particular project. It’s a harbinger of what is yet to come.
Of course, there are a lot of fascinating trends underway with ‘machines that think,’ particularly with cool little projects at Google and elsewhere, with little robots that can play soccer.
But it’s bigger than cool party tricks – we are already starting to see some fascinating, real-world applications come out of Boston Dynamics, one of the leaders in advanced robotic technology.
“A key part of AB InBev’s “Brewery of the Future” program, Spot conducts 1,800 individual inspections each week across ten packaging lines that churn over 50,000 containers of Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Corona beer every hour. In the first six months of deployment, Spot discovered nearly 150 anomalies and slashed average repair times from a few months to 13 days.”
Consider the factory or warehousing role of machines that think and see and pick and pack:
“With our multipick functionality, Stretch is unlocking the next level of automated unloading. Stretch can now move multiple boxes with a single swing of the arm. In typical shipping containers filled with thousands of boxes, the robot is hitting significantly higher rates of productivity.“
But it’s not just fascinating robotic technology like this that matters – there are more pedestrian and less science fiction-like ideas emerging with ‘machines’ that have real practical, day-to-day value. Last week, in my keynote for a few thousand cattle ranchers, I shared some information about an automatic AI machine that helps to feed cattle on a ranch.
The V1 Ranch Rover is the first automated system for supplementing pasture for cattle.
“It’s going to be the first-ever pastureland autonomous cattle feeding rover,” says Hunter Allemand, co-founder of Smooth Ag. “Think about your flatbed truck with your trip hopper or whatever you use on the ranch to supplement pasture feeding. This is just an autonomous version.”
I shared a lot more about the emerging era of smart machines on the ranch, including insight about this particular camera technology which automatically senses disease in a herd and notifies the rancher accordingly.
The system uses machine vision and algorithmic technology to identify a particular type of disease, simply by looking at the animal’s muzzle.
A series of ‘smart cameras’ placed strategically around the ranch constantly scans the herd, looking for signs of disease.
As I keep on suggesting, we live in the era of magic, and AI is bigger than what you are experiencing with ChatGPT and other large language models. It’s all about the AI megatrends. If you don’t understand what is going on in your industry, you should.
And for me, it’s now all about organizations now organizing AI sessions for their leadership teams – which is detailed here.
We live in interesting times!