Robots in the Cloud?

Cloud storage is an old idea. Pretty much everyone knows you can save your data “on the cloud” to free up hard drive space and make your data available anywhere you go. But these days, the buzz is all about cloud computing – collecting, analyzing, and applying data on the cloud. As it becomes more prevalent, cloud technology is going to change the world. Here’s how in 4 steps.

Step #1: Every organization – public and private – will be lifted into the cloud

Cloud will enable everything in our world to be safer and better managed. That includes cities, where 6 billion people will live by 2045. Using cloud technology, municipal services such as utilities will be able to automatically repair faults in the power grid, making power supply more secure and reliable.

Think about the machines and systems that are in use every day. From elevators to parking lots, farms to power plants, all will begin to rely on the cloud’s ability to store and analyze data. We can expect to soon see smart solutions for all sorts of things: driverless cars and drone taxis, smart trains and subways, and powerful new innovations for agriculture and energy supply.

These advances won’t just be reserved for big companies. In fact, small and medium-sized enterprises stand to gain the most. Generally, larger companies have easier access to data and the tools needed to analyze and use it. But once cloud computing comes into full swing, expect to see even small companies using data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other capabilities to compete in the market.

From banking to aviation, agriculture to art, every organization will be lifted into the cloud, enabling unprecedented advances in speed and efficiency.

Step #2: Management of data will go to the cloud

Once organizations get to the cloud and are collecting and storing data, they will soon be faced with another major challenge: how to manage that data. Cloud is the best tool to help cope with the growing volumes of data in our world. The advantage of cloud technology is that it can centralize the collection and then the organization of data. Once data is intelligently organized and analyzed, the application of data to real-world problems becomes much easier (see Step #4).

Another way cloud enables better data management is with smartphones, which capture enormous quantities of unstructured data such as emails, text messages and photos. Analyzing unstructured data takes time and processing power that most smartphones don’t have, so the phones have to send the data to powerful servers in the cloud.

There are predictions that suggest high-definition video will account for 89% of individual user traffic by 2025. This video traffic is more than just cat videos on YouTube, surprisingly enough. Most of it will be things like advertising and video recordings used in public safety applications. This type of data is defined by IDC as “image and video content for non-entertainment purposes”, and it’s expected to grow exponentially. The cloud is our best tool to help manage such massive amounts of information.

Step #3: Artificial intelligence will emerge in the cloud

Once all data is stored and managed on the cloud, AI will condense and coalesce into a powerful force for productivity on the cloud. Artificial intelligence is the best way to analyze data and find ways to use it intelligently.

The cloud will support artificial intelligence and help the technology truly take off. One example is through cell phones connected to the cloud. With always-on intelligence, future devices will respond immediately to voice commands; ensure that photos are catalogued according to content; and take photos completely tailored to specific subjects under various shooting conditions.

A well-known cloud-based AI solution is Google’s AI algorithm that plays the game Go. During the training process for that system, Google’s AI algorithm played millions of games of Go with itself until it became a grand master capable of defeating a human. It did that in the cloud, where processing power is abundant and AI learns quickly. What AI has learned is then sent back to the device and applied.

Because AI needs to process data in real time, all the time, even tomorrow’s super-advanced smartphones won’t be able to meet the computing demands imposed by AI. They’ll have to rely on the processing power of the cloud. And that’s why AI will emerge and remain in the cloud, making smart devices an important conduit through which we will interact with AI in the future.

Step #4: Really cool new applications will rain down from the cloud

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see driverless cars. Over a million people die in car crashes every year around the world. Imagine a future where the number of car crashes is slashed to almost zero. That future is possible, and it’s coming thanks to the cloud.

Vehicles come with sensors and cameras that generate plenty of data just like smartphones. Much of that data needs to be processed in real time, so processing will take place in the vehicle itself. But many tasks, such as software updates and machine learning, will happen in the cloud.

Other applications like drone delivery, smart healthcare, advanced agricultural machinery, and personal care robots for the elderly will all function in a similar manner. AI applications will quite literally rain down from the cloud and generate countless benefits for humanity.

The vision of driverless cars gliding down streets and highways is still a ways off, but it is coming, along with countless other new applications and solutions. Let’s turn our gaze upward to the sky – and the cloud – and think of a better world, one that is fully connected and intelligent.

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