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Beyond the Hotel: Developments in Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence can do amazing things for your hotel, but it is also emerging as a driving force in many other fields. Here are a few fascinating recent developments related to AI:


Machine Learning and AI are now being used to revolutionize the way we eat. One startup in particular is using AI to produce food and make farming more efficient. FarmLogs tracks factors such as rainfall, crop health, and nitrogen levels to gain important insights about agriculture. It then advises farms on how to increase yields and profitability. Other companies, like Israeli startup Prospera, are exploring how AI can impact food growth, so we will surely be seeing some major progress in this area in the coming years. And it isn’t just about data, either. With workforces declining, some farmers are deploying robots to do the harvesting, and monitor important changes on farms. With AI, these harvesting robots can even learn which produce is ripe and which to leave in the fields, eliminating a major source of food waste. These technologies are more controversial, but companies assure that they are geared towards helping farmers rather than replacing human labor.

IBM's Debate Robot

Early this summer, IBM made headlines with the first robot to take on a human in a debate. The robot in question debated two humans, including an accomplished debate champion. According to IBM, this robot can debate on any topic, and uses an advanced set of algorithms for actions like voice recognition, eliminating repetitive statements, and scanning millions of articles in a database. It also displayed a sense of humor during the debate, peppering in self-deprecating jokes throughout. The result: A tie. After a debate between robot and human on telemedicine, the robot was able to change the opinions of nine audience members. When surveyed, audience members ranked the robot higher on its ability to enrich their knowledge, but overwhelmingly preferred the humans’ delivery. This technology has huge implications for business, government, and education. Robots won’t have the ability to make decisions, but can serve as a voice of reason and source of information for those making important decisions or polishing their critical thinking skills.

Monitoring Endangered Species

A new academic paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently explored the potential for Artificial Intelligence in wildlife conservation. Conservation group Snapshot Serengeti has been collecting data for years using its motion-sensor “camera traps,” which take photos of wild animals without disturbing them. Using AI, researchers have developed a new way to make this monitoring more accurate and efficient. Collaborators from Harvard, Oxford, the University of Minnesota, and Auburn University compiled images with descriptions and labels manually entered by humans. They then used deep learning to train a computer to correctly identify factors like species, number of animals, and types of behavior in images captured by the camera traps. Categorizing these photos manually requires a significant amount of time and resources, with most of the work currently done by volunteers. There’s no telling the impact this new development could have on protecting wildlife worldwide.

Combatting Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a major major issue in medicine that affects millions of lives. Now, biotech companies are researching ways in which Artificial Intelligence can combat some of the most dangerous strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Sequencing the genomes of each bacteria is the most effective method for determining treatment methods. However, this can take days when sequencing is carried out manually. Adaptive Phage Therapeutics wants to change this. Using machine learning, the startup has developed a way to sequence the bacteria much more quickly and accurately. It can even identify the best possible antidote to these harmful organisms without human intervention. This is a significant breakthrough for modern medicine, especially with antibiotic resistance on the rise. The company is currently planning its first clinical trials, so its application could be in use as early as next year.