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The Future of AI, IoT and Robotics (part I)

This is the first in a two-part series reflecting on the SIDO international AI and connected objects conference held in Lyon earlier this year attended by Marion Fioravanti a technology fan and one of YSEOP’s long-standing R&D engineers.  In her event write up, Marion reflects on the SIDO event and the questions and possible answers about the future of AI and our increasingly connected world.  

A day at SIDO

The fifth edition of SIDO (Showroom de l’Intelligence des Objects) took place in Lyon from 9th to 10th April 2019.  Present were international players in the Internet of Things, AI and Robotics areas.

An area perhaps better known for its agriculture or outdoor pursuits, the Rhône-Alpes Auvergne region is a breeding ground for IoT.  This is one of the reasons that SIDO has always been such a successful exhibition, and this year was no different with high quality speakers and participants from around the world.  This year for the first time, the show also welcomed companies and entrepreneurs who work in the domains of AI and Robotics.  As I have a keen interest in these areas, I thought I’d better go and see what they had to say.

The exhibition consists of two large showrooms, each with sections for “innovative startups” with conferences running in parallel in 5 additional rooms.  On the menu: plenaries, workshops and passionate discussions with manufacturers, research centres and SMEs.  There was something for all tastes, and just two days didn’t seem long enough to cover all the interesting topics.  With just one day at the conference I had a rather condensed programme, which was both exhausting and enriching.

So, what did I learn?

AI in the service of mankind

The key idea here is the desire to put AI to the service of mankind, rather than using it to replace human beings, but instead use AI for menial and repetitive tasks.  There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the worker who worries about the arrival of mechanical workers in the factory, but also over the last few years we have seen the development of robot chefs, games and conductors.  What does that mean then for the joy of preparing a nice meal for friends, the rich experience that children have in learning and playing games together and the supple sensitivity of the human hand directing an orchestra?  These robots are amusing, that’s for sure, but they should not take away from our joy. On the other hand, when dull and painstaking tasks can be automated, we might as well make the most of it, and take time to be creative.

AI and Ethics

The Ethics of AI has also been extensively covered within the European Union administration.  At the start of April 2019, they published a list of seven ethical axes to follow in this area.  Amongst other areas, they cover the rights of man, transparency and respect for the environment.  What is important is to make sure that these rules are taken into account during the development of the product and not just afterwards.  For the moment they are more guidelines than enforceable laws, but the European Commission is working to make these into new regulations which will be applied and enforced.

I was pleased to see the parallels at SIDO between the latest discussions of how AI can be used ethically to help mankind and the way that YSEOP has been working for years.  Our solutions really focus on helping analysts and medical writers automate the cumbersome aspects of their roles, leaving more time for them to focus on more high level analysis and conclusions which seems to fit perfectly with the spirit of AI being discussed at SIDO.

To learn more about what Marion and her colleagues in the YSEOP R&D team have been working on and how Natural Language Generation could help your business flourish, have a look at our How to Choose Your First NLG Use Case guide