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AI for a Better World

In this special guest feature, Tobi Knaup, CEO of D2iQ, explores how AI will make the world a better place. Previously, Tobi served as D2iQ’s Chief Technology Officer. As the primary author of the open-source container orchestrator (Marathon) and co-creator of the KUDO toolkit for building Kubernetes Operators, Tobi has the unique ability to understand an organization’s cloud native journey from all levels–business, technological and talent. And as the driver behind D2iQ’s next-generation Kubernetes platform, Tobi helps make it possible for organizations to navigate the cost and time-intensive challenges associated with enterprise-grade container orchestration. A German native, Tobi holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from the Technical University of Munich.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative technologies of our lifetime. Movies often portray AI as something hostile or insidious, a robot villain or sentient general intelligence that turns against its human creators. But the reality is very different. 

Today’s AI is used to power much more focused solutions that enrich and improve our lives. While every new technology introduces risks and the potential for misuse, the positive effects AI will have on our lives will far outweigh any harmful effects. 

In fact, AI is already built into many of the products we use every day, usually without us realizing that it’s there. The magical features in our smartphones like autocorrect, digital assistants, and even the camera are powered by AI. If your car has driver assistance systems, that’s AI as well.

AI is a general-purpose tool that will be built into almost every product and service we use. AI can be linked to sensors to monitor environments and to physical systems to alter environments, including houses, cars, factories and cities. AI can also monitor weather patterns, traffic patterns, and patient health to improve routes and outcomes. AI accelerates innovation and scientific discovery every day, and is even enabling new art forms.

Let’s look more closely at how AI can make the world a better place. 

AI Gives Us Superhuman Powers

You may not realize it, but you already have an invisible AI companion that helps you get through your daily life more efficiently if you own a smartphone. Digital assistants like Siri or Alexa use AI-powered speech recognition and synthesis to communicate with you, and use AI search algorithms to respond to your queries. Your camera app makes your photos look more professional, detects faces, and automatically sorts photos into smart albums, all powered by AI. When I wrote this article, AI corrected my spelling, and I could use AI to automatically translate this text into a different language.

In the same way that many consumer products give us superhuman powers today, AI can give superpowers to people performing highly specialized work. DeepDOF is an AI-powered microscope that enables surgeons to become superhuman doctors during surgery by answering the all-important question, “Did we get all the cancer tissue out?” This and other AI-guided surgical procedures can significantly improve patient outcomes. AI also can comb through massive amounts of medical data at lightning speed to aid in patient diagnosis.

AI Aids Research

Researchers are using AI to solve problems that are difficult or impossible for humans to solve, like processing massive amounts of data and solving large optimization problems. Atomwise built an AI-based system to speed up drug discovery by running through millions of simulated compounds per day to predict how likely they would be to have a certain therapeutic effect. Instead of brute-force testing many different compounds, only the compounds that are predicted to work best need to be synthesized and tested, thereby massively cutting down drug discovery time and costs. 

Ezra is using AI for early cancer detection, and research projects like FastMRI are making strides to dramatically lower the cost of an MRI scan, while enabling MRI scanners to detect things you don’t feel and your doctor can’t otherwise see. Detecting cancer and other illnesses earlier is often the difference between life and death.

AI can also make a difference in poorer nations. The Child Growth Monitor project is using AI to easily detect malnutrition in children so that aid can be more effectively distributed to those who need it most, and eventually end world hunger. It runs on low-cost off-the-shelf smartphones to make it widely accessible.

AI Makes the World Greener

Similar to speeding up drug discovery, AI is accelerating the discovery of new chemical compounds that will lead to better materials, fuels, pesticides, and other products that have superior characteristics and are better for the environment. 

In the future, AI might also be used to make nuclear fusion a reliable, carbon-neutral, cheap, and abundant source of energy, which could be key in combating climate change. Today, AI  makes buildings more energy-efficient, and Bearing.AI reduces fuel consumption and plans safer routes for maritime shipping, a large emitter of greenhouse gasses.

AI Makes the World Safer

If you’ve gotten your hands on a Tesla, it is equipped with an AI supercomputer that will give it autopilot capabilities later this year. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to live in a city like San Francisco or Phoenix where robotaxis are already a reality. 

Self-driving cars aren’t just easier to drive, and robotaxis aren’t just cheaper. Even the early versions available today get into fewer accidents than human drivers and are making our streets safer.

AI Makes the World More Beautiful

It may sound counterintuitive, but the arts have always been driven by technology. Key breakthroughs in technology lead to new art forms. The invention of the electric guitar created the rock music genre, and the synthesizer created electronic music. Film cameras and projectors enabled cinema, and 3D rendering gave us modern Disney movies. The next step for music, cinema, and art will be enabled by AI. 

DALL·E 2 is an AI app that can create photorealistic images of things that don’t exist, from simple text input. In a few years, it will be possible to generate entire movies from nothing more than a script. The latest AI music software can automatically generate beats and melodies based on songs you like. Amper Music generates entire songs from just a few inputs like instrumentation and desired emotion, and AI even completed Beethoven’s unfinished Tenth Symphony. The first fully AI-generated number one hit is just around the corner.

AI Ad Infinitum 

The AI use cases described above merely scratch the surface. AI can optimize IT network and application performance and can enhance cyber security. AI-based robotic process automation (RPA) can free office workers from the tedium of manual data-entry tasks and reduce errors. AI-based chatbots can provide round-the-clock customer service and gather intelligence that can improve business outcomes. 

AI can aid decision-making to help organizations improve business operations and the bottom line. AI can help banks determine credit worthiness and detect fraud, can help retailers optimize inventory and sales, and can help marketers identify prospects and personalize messaging. 

Cloud Native + AI = Smart Cloud Native

AI is still a relatively new tool in most organizations’ tool belt, but tomorrow’s winning products in every single industry will have AI as their key attribute. Those organizations that can successfully leverage AI to build better products will become their category leaders and stay head of their competition. We call this burgeoning generation of cloud native and AI technologies smart cloud native.

When looking to successfully leverage AI, it’s critical for an organization to adopt technology that will give it the agility and scalability required to build next-generation products. This is why cloud native technology, specifically Kubernetes, is a natural fit for running AI workloads. 

Kubernetes empowers organizations with the agility to deploy and manage AI and machine learning (AI/ML) workloads across public clouds, private clouds, on-premise, edge, and secure air-gap locations, and to easily change and migrate deployments without incurring excess cost. In many use cases, training is done on the cloud, and inference at the edge. 

Kubernetes provides a single way to manage the many components of an AI/ML pipeline across disparate infrastructures. Organizations that can learn how to adopt cloud native and AI technologies will be able to build their next-generation product much faster and in a more agile way, and sustain that innovation over time.

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