What comes first: the chicken or the egg? People have asked that question for ages, but nobody seems to have the answer. It’s the same mystery surrounding the complex yet intricate relationship between the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Which entity created the second one? How does one help the other to evolve? How do they work separately, or together? And what happens if they finally combine into one platform?
First, IoT is the fast evolving technological trend that is literally marrying diverse devices and systems into one platform which in turn leads to a better understanding of consumer behavior. This ongoing accumulation of data about what the consumer wants (or does not want) improves the quality of the service of the system, making its performance more attuned to the customer’s needs.
So we see smart bus systems “advising” each other on their current location, smart homes that warn the owner who is away at work of any intrusion, and even medicine bottles that will remind you take your pill for the day. The ingenuity of IoT is that it is dynamic, never static. The smart home may soon take notice of other potential threats to the owner’s family and warn them too. The “smart” medicine bottle may soon create a list of the vitamins and supplements that the patient uses, comes up with a list, and then reminds him should the supply fall short.
All these become possible because of data. It is the stream of information that is continually gathered, processed, analyzed, and then serves as a guideline for the systems to change their behavior. Data includes but is not limited to purchase choices, sleeping habits, daily schedules, favorite shows and music, safety measures, etc. AI is at the center of this constant maelstrom of information gathering, organizing it, making sense of it, and then programming the machines to respond to the owner’s needs – or even give him a better choice.
AI is the brain that makes IoT run. It is the command center that runs the whole thing efficiently. It creates order and purpose out of seeming chaos.
At the same time, AI also evolves during this process. AI actually means machine-learning or a machine that acquires knowledge and continually adapts it to follow its programming. We are beginning to see the ripple of it through intelligent chat bots that now answer our questions or guide us through traffic gridlock. The more smart systems become integrated, organize their data and match their services accordingly, they too will learn and expand on that learning. The most basic example of this is the Amazon algorithm which recommends to us books and magazines based on our past choices. Now apply that capability to your digital appliance within the IoT, and you can soon have smart devices anticipating your moves and preferences even before you make them.
Let’s take the smart car for example. As part of your vehicular IoT, it has a list of your daily itinerary, favorite weekend restaurants, your go-to-destress destinations, and a map of the city. You’ve programmed it to alert you about the best road to take during rush hour, or remind you about your dinner date at this Spanish fine-dining restaurant this Friday. As the systems become smarter, it learns more about how you hate being late in traffic or how you prefer the more exotic culinary spots over fast-food joints. Pretty soon, it just might ask you if you’d like to leave home a little early to stay away from the traffic, or pinpoint a new Michellin-star resto that opened near your office.
AI made the IoT possible. At the same time, IoT by evolving and learning, transforms into its own form of AI.
Which comes first: the chicken or the egg? IoT or AI? The line may be blurring and pretty soon it would be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. But one thing is certain: as the machines and systems adapt and learn, they become better technological “servants” with one overriding goal: to help you, their master, reach your objectives.
About D.N. Clemente
Based in New York City, he writes about tech meetups on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data/Business Intelligence, E-commerce, Internet of Things, Edutech, Fintech, the Sharing Economy, Tech Startups, UX Design as well as various fundraising methods and tips from startup founders.
Follow him on linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dennisclemente