When we think of Artificial Intelligence deployed to the workforce, it’s common to picture something from the science fiction canon – a robot maid vacuuming the floor, or a sentient voice carrying on an actual conversation. Science fiction authors didn’t quite hit the mark, but some of them came close. Talking voice agents like Siri and Echo have similarities in the Star Trek universe, for instance, and the self-driving car was predicted humorously when Arnold Schwarzenegger climbed into the back of a “Johnny Cab” in 1990’s Total Recall.
Modern-day business is quietly getting its own AI revolution, at last. However, far from being able to replace human labor entirely, AI systems are more adept at enabling people to do more work with less effort. It turns out AI is best for tackling “the boring parts” of work, solving workflow problems which then frees up staff to look to more high-level matters.
AI In The Legal Profession
Jerry Ting, the founder of Evisort, was a Harvard Law student whose visions of courtroom glamour were doused when he saw what lawyers really spend most of their time doing: reviewing through hundreds of pages of contract paperwork. Not only did simply reading all these reams of legal boilerplate take up the most time, but every legal professional complained about it the most. This inspired him to team together with a fellow Harvard Law student and an MIT graduate to found Evisort, an AI document management software platform.
Evisort is capable of “reading” large contracts in a matter of seconds, and pulling out key legal terms revolving around parties, dollar amounts, dates, termination clauses, and other important elements. It can quickly store and retrieve this information at the push of a button, where the same job used to take all day, perhaps even filling the schedule of a full legal team.
To say Evisort has been successful would be an understatement. Being the very first software of its kind, the company has acquired clients including Fortune 500 companies, AM 100 firms, and businesses from start-ups to enterprise. Enthusiastic investor funding has poured into Evisort’s funds, from investment firms backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Virtually all companies have to retain a legal department at some point, and every last one of them is thrilled to hand off the tedium of mining data from contracts off to a robot.
AI In Agriculture
We don’t think of the farming world as being high tech, but the call for “farm tech” has been growing rapidly in recent years. In the bullish job market, nobody wants to do the stoop labor of picking produce or tending livestock, but the expanding world population demands ever more food production. Long-time agricultural equipment company John Deere has transformed from merely making tractors to making a range of high-tech, AI-guided equipment.
After merging with Blue River technology, Deere and other companies in the agricultural support space are finding a surprisingly receptive market in farmers. It turns out that many of the tasks on a common farm, such as plowing back and forth or irrigating on a schedule, are easily suited to a bit of AI control and autonomous drones. Our future produce section could well be farmed entirely by robots, while the farmer’s life is going to be managed mostly from a laptop in the kitchen without having to go outside.
AI in Transportation
Driverless cars? We’re not quite there yet, but in the meantime, an AI-assisted driver is the next best thing. This was the inspiration for Aptiv, which provides automotive components to the largest automotive manufacturers worldwide. Aptiv started out using machine learning to help design better sensors for existing vehicles. But recently, they’ve noticed they can also use AI systems to assist drivers in driving safer.
These elements include driver monitoring systems, and smart controls for peripherals like headlights, windshield wipers, and turn signals. In addition, the company is researching new and improved ways of controlling vehicle functions – for instance, one branch of research explores a camera that can track hand signals to be used in place of manual controls for things like changing a radio station or adjusting a side-view mirror. With a worldwide total of 1.25 million people dying in auto accidents annually, anything that AI can do to assist drivers makes a safer road for all of us.