Empowering the Manufacturing Industry Through Decentralised AI.

Author:Coussins, Andy

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its presence felt in every aspect of our daily lives--from the new breed of virtual assistants in our homes, to the spam filters that eliminate unwanted spam emails from our inboxes. As AI algorithms--and the computing power that drives them--improve year-on-year, their ability to positively transform the world in which we live is unquestionable. In fact, PwC predicts that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030[I].

Indeed, as many as one-in-five (20 percent) of the 1,000 US organisations recently surveyed by PwC had plans to implement AI enterprise-wide in 2019. The PwC research also reveals how companies are increasingly initiating AI models at the very core of their production processes, in a bid to enhance operational decision-making and provide forward-looking intelligence to people in every function throughout the business.

To many, this move to AI is no surprise. After all, robots have been used for years in many manufacturing disciplines, so the progression to AI seems like a logical next step. Either way, there is no doubt that the future is one in which machines and humans will work alongside one another with increasing regularity.

Unanswered questions.

AI is big business--US venture capital investment in the sector reached $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2018, compared to $3.9 billion in the same period the year before. Meanwhile, AI companies have become attractive takeover targets, with the number acquired outright reaching a record 35 companies at a combined value at $3.8 billion.

Despite this positive outlook, some unanswered questions remain. Concerns continue to grow about the impact of AI on privacy, cybersecurity, employment, social inequality, and the environment. Customers, employees, boards, regulators and corporate partners are all asking the same question: can we trust AI?

The trust element.

As AI in the marketplace increasingly becomes controlled by just a handful of big companies that own cloud-based AI platforms and APIs, the issue of trust is stimulating growing calls for the decentralisation of AI. The main fear for manufacturers is that a centralised model will lead to the monopolisation of the AI market. This in turn could cause unfair pricing and stifle innovation.

Decentralised AI--born at the intersection of blockchain, on-device AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT)--helps solve this challenge and promotes transparency. It...

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