By Jordi Linares:
We are used to being surprised by technology every day with new devices and possibilities, and we have the wrong perception that these changes are taking place in a linear way. It’s not like that.
In the technological world and, especially that which has to do with the technologies that we know as ICT, we usually make mention of the famous Moore’s Law which, in a very simplistic way, we can summarize that electronic devices come to double their possibilities every 18 or 24 months. Without going into exact details or its possible non-continuity in the future, what it implies is that since the 60s of the last century we have had a non-linear process of evolution. In fact, doubling every 2 years is a profile we call exponential.
The human being is not prepared to understand what ‘exponentiality’ means. Exponentiality in an area such as the automotive industry would mean that, at the same price, every two years we could have a vehicle capable of going twice as fast. Obviously, exponential evolution is not present in all fields of engineering. But when it comes to the ICT world, this is the general case.
But there has always been a great stumbling block. The evolution of hardware does not imply the evolution of the ability to solve ‘new tasks‘ on the part of computers and other devices (smartphones, tablets etc.). More speed or memory capacity, although these increase exponentially over time, it does not imply that we can provide solutions previously only possible by a human being.
Artificial intelligence has been a field that, already in its origins, in the mid-1950s, set itself the challenge of conquering new possibilities. New possibilities implies that computers can solve problems previously not possible with them, new steps to climb in their long career in trying to reach our full possibilities as human beings.
Artificial intelligence, with a very irregular evolution and even with great disappointments, changed radically in 2012 when, using a neural network integrating some elements solved in later years and with hardware based on powerful graphics cards, it changed the world forever. Deep learning was born, a field of machine learning that in turn is a subset of artificial intelligence, and with it, we have finally climbed a new step in the achievement of machines solving problems that were only possible by human beings.
It does not seem that this is the final step in this race to achieve machines at our height in all our potentialities, but without a doubt it is a before and after.
The field of social and healthcare is, almost without a doubt, one of the sectors that will suffer the most benefits and changes shortly from this new step in computer science.
Devices capable of recognizing objects, identifying elements of the environment, understanding what we say in our own language, responding also in natural language, assisting patients and professionals in all their activities, minimizing risks and possible errors in our work, making employees feel more secure, that people with special needs can have virtual or even future robotic assistants that allow them to carry out their daily activities and work, make an automatic and intelligent follow-up of patients that allows professionals to focus on more fundamental and less repetitive tasks …. the new world of artificial intelligence, new interaction devices and synergy with patients and professionals has begun.
It is very important, and this is what the NICCoLLa project tries to do, that the technological world and that of social assistance and health, work hand in hand in the design of new tools with a single objective: to improve the lives of everyone, patients, clients and professionals.