How AI and Virtual Reality will shake up society

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Technology is changing how individuals interact socially, as well as how businesses create new products to enhance our everyday lives. One of the latest advancements within the technology sector has been creating and improving artificial intelligence (AI) applications to help solve problems in our complicated world. AI focused startups have been gaining momentum and attention from investors, with the funding of AI startup companies nearly doubling from 2013 to 2015. Another developing technology is virtual reality (VR) which has been becoming a more mainstream tool to help businesses visualize potential products or let consumers tour vacation spots. To help highlight these developing technologies, below are insights on a few different ways that AI and VR are projected to shake up society.

Economic Impact of VR

There have been several false starts for VR resulting from companies investing and attempting to create a product for a technology that had yet to be fully developed. Yet as of late, advances have revived interest in virtual reality, as well as in VR companies, such as the Oculus Rift. In fact by 2020, the VR and augmented reality market is suppose to reach $150 billion in revenue. This explosive growth will create a demand for a new economic market of virtual goods and service providers as well as jobs for high-tech designers, developers and graphic artists. VR is also projected to create demand for haptic devices which are clothing or objects that transmit touch to a virtual environment.

AI: The New Super Hero

Each year, natural disasters impact millions of lives and billions of dollars in property damage around the world. The damage resulting from natural disasters has seemingly increased as of late, between 2005 and 2015, the United States saw a total of 242 natural disasters and 134 storms that resulted in recorded incidents. To help protect individuals during natural disasters, companies have started using AI –specifically drones, sensors and robots –which can provide accurate information about damaged buildings and landscapes making rescue efforts safer and less time-consuming. One of the first uses of AI for disaster response was during the Nepal earthquake in April 2015 where volunteers tagged crisis-related tweets and photos which were then used by AI to identify urgent needs, infrastructure damage and resource deployment needs. Since that earthquake there have been advances within AI, one example of which is an online tool, developed by the Qatar Computing Research Institute, that uses machine learning to automatically identify tweets relating to a particular crisis to assist volunteer agencies. Another example is BlueLine Grid, which is a mobile communication platform that connects users to a network of law enforcement and first responders.

Virtual Reality: A New Education?

Virtual reality is becoming a popular tool used by schools for an immersive teaching experience. While statistics on VR use in schools and colleges have been minimal, there has been steady growth in the market with a surge of companies dedicated to implementing VR within the educational curriculum. Many companies are noting that VR could provide educators with an opportunity to engage in a variety of learning styles. For example, a science class could take a virtual trip to Mars or dive into the ocean to study the Barrier Reef. History classes could board the Titanic or even visit a Mayan temple. These types of trips provide students with the potential to interact with a foreign environment and potentially participate with other virtual groups from around the world to foster understanding among young students. VR can also be used in higher education as well by allowing medical students to virtually train in an emergency room before they are fully ready to enter the emergency room in the real world.

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are no longer only found in science-fiction books, but will soon be a part of everyday life. Specifically, look for AI technology to continue to advance with machine learning and one day have the potential to cure diseases that plague society. As for virtual reality, systems are projected to continue to change the way we experience life and increase the ability for people to work together on both personal and business projects.

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