The future is now: The astonishing growth of AI

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Jurgen Dalli is Junior Legal Associate at PKFMalta

The big screen has led us to believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is some futuristic marvel which we will not witness until the next couple of decades.

However, this is widely misconstrued, seeing that AI is all around us and has cemented itself in our culture since the 1950s where AI took the form of a human problem solving programme under the name of the Logic Theorist. Nonetheless, the applicability and manifestation of AI has seen a drastic change. AI has developed to an extent that now it is being utilised to solve or at least to alleviate major global issues.

Most AI initiatives today are still in their nascent or development stage, being attentively researched and tested, nonetheless, countless initiatives have already been implemented with the hopes of making a difference and of rectifying global concerns. Many of these ingenuities are being implemented in developing countries which rely on the cultivation of raw materials for their subsistence and who are not economically and socially stable. In Uganda, an image-processing tool labelled mCrops is being utilised to assist farmers in diagnosing diseases in crops. In Nigeria, due to a massive shortage of doctors, AI is being used for remote medical diagnosis. Another system intended to aid farmers is Aerobotics, which is resorting to drones and satellite imagery to optimise crop yields in East Africa.

AI is also making waves locally seeing it is being implemented in daily problems such as traffic management where there are plans in progress to have a system managing traffic flow by controlling traffic lights in busy junctions by virtue of vehicle detecting. One can see a similar situation in the health sector where a system known as Pharmacy of Your Choice is in the making to assist prescribers to make more informed decisions from a patient safety perspective and devise preventive care models to create better health outcomes. AI is also being incorporated from the education standpoint as around 50 scholarships will be provided annually between 2020 and 2022. These will be offered to those students intending to undertake post-graduate studies in AI (Masters/PhD level) at the University of Malta. All these projects and countless more are being supervised by the MDIA, which will monitor each pilot project to ensure the smooth and ethical implementation of these initiatives.

AI is also being incorporated in Malta’s most essential sector – tourism. The Ministry for Tourism, together with the Malta Tourism Authority, is keen on resorting to AI in order to offer tourists a friendlier and easier vacation. This is being achieved by setting up interactive information kiosks which furnish tourists with the relevant information they would need to discover Malta. By virtue of this platform, tourists would be provided with itineraries and experiences which match their interests. This may be compared to engines generating recommendations commonly found in music and television streaming services.

AI is also being looked into to benefit the utilities sector in order to enhance maintenance and performance. Utility companies such as Enemalta, Water Services Corporation and ARMS are adamant on raw data gathering; AI is an avenue which these companies might want to take in order to facilitate operations as it allows them to make smarter decisions much faster. AI’s role here is to collect, organise and analyse current data to discover patterns and other pertinent information vis-à-vis water and energy consumption. AI allows for customer-behaviour learning which in turn translates into the maximisation of resources allowing for real-time adjustments. The collection of customer data will also enable predictive models which admit the possibility of identifying problems even before they materialise.

These are just a small sample of the myriad of projects which have been launched and which are already being regarded as useful. It is unfathomable what the future holds and what major advances we will witness in the next couple of year as the steady pace at which AI is growing is remarkable to say the least. More and more projects are being financed in order to solve the global hitches we are facing or at least, if not solved, to mitigate these snags. Developing countries are already enjoying the fruits of AI especially in relation to crop cultivation and medical assistance and it is projected that more and more backing will be provided to these nations.

At PKF Malta, fundamental to our business philosophy is the harmonising of our services to provide the most effective solutions for our clients’ businesses. A wide range of services allows us to provide clients with constructive and proactive advice from the inception of an idea, through its establishment as an operation, its growth and expansion, to the eventual realization of capital. Specialists in each area enable us to provide clients with the best advice in a timely manner, thereby enabling them to take full advantage of arising opportunities.

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