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22nd February 2019

AI-enabled Tech Foresight Summit, Berlin

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Life is about good choices. Spending your money wisely. Finding the right partner. Navigating difficult journeys. In a corporate environment this is the task of the Technology Foresight Teams and the focus of this excellent one-day workshop hosted by itonics and Rohrbeck Heger.

At the heart of the challenge is predicting the future – never an easy job description. There is no shortage of ideas on how to go about it. They all require an understanding of the past and the present and an extrapolation. If we run through a couple of the presentations, you’ll get the idea.

John Miranda presented Intel’s Early Warning System for Emerging Trends. It has three key elements: sensing, interpreting and acting. Sensing is derived from data aggregation and analysis – monitoring global trends such as privacy and China (using Quid), knowledge management (using itonics) and internal input. It is John’s role to find a trend that requires communication and corresponding action.

Dr Frank Rudd explained the role of the Daimler team, now called Pioneering Next, that has been developed over the last 40 years. While the slogan | Ignite. Invent. Implement | makes this sound straightforward enough, he exposed the sheer scale of the challenge. These are some of the thing’s within the NeXt remit: societal change, the future of transport and logistics, customer insights, open innovation, scouting, research collaborations, science and technologies. To give you a sense of the scale of the challenge the potential of quantum computing to reduce a calculation that would today take 1 billion years to 100 seconds is just one of the 9 themes in the future technology stream.

What all approaches had in common were well-organised input data, the ability to analyse it and powerful visualisations. At the input level, two data sources that everyone recognised as important were scientific publications and patents. Even at that level that’s 190,000 papers and 500,000 patents a month, well beyond human screening. Which led to a series of presentations and discussions on the role of AI – and workshops on the position today and expectations for 2024. The trend was naturally towards adoption, with unanimity in areas such as competitor monitoring and technology screening with less confidence around weak signal scanning and feature centric search.

“From a Cipher perspective, this matches our view of the world. Fast and accurate access to patent unlocks the huge appetite for this insight” says Nigel Swycher CEO Aistemos.

Michael Durst, CEO, Itonics with Nigel Swycher, CEO, Aistemos

Michael Durst, CEO, Itonics with Nigel Swycher, CEO, Aistemos

So while no one at this Tech Foresight event thought that AI can predict the future, it can reduce the cost and delay of analysing vast amounts of information that would otherwise be kept out the hands of those who have to do what humans do best – imagine.

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