If you were ever in doubt about how fast the pace artificial intelligence and deep learning is moving, do not pass Go.
Go is the ancient game of strategy that involves laying black and white stones on a board. According to the ABC, the game reputedly has more possible configurations than there are atoms in the universe.
Here’s the deal today. A supercomputer that Google developed called AlphaGo just beat South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol. It was their first playoff from their five-match showdown.
This is just another milestone in the advancing technology breakthroughs coming this decade…
The automation coming to everywhere near you
There was a consensus about a year ago that artificial intelligence was 10 years away from mastering Go. That’s despite the fact that chess was conquered as far back as 1997, when Garry Kasparov lost to IBM’s Deep Blue. Go was the final frontier.
Here’s why. According to The Guardian, ‘AlphaGo’s mastery of Go is so significant because of the near-infinite number of board positions available and the intuition that top human players rely upon to pick between them.’
The machines are coming. Automation is going to upend in the world in ways that we can’t even imagine. For example, the International Federation of Robotics says around 1.3 million industrial robots will be entering service worldwide by 2018.
You’re not even safe on the open seas anymore.
Rolls Royce Holdings is apparently designing unmanned cargo ships. The vision for now is for captains on dry land to command a fleet of crewless ships.
This is sure to put a major dent in sales for the brothels and bars in ports of the world. But crew costs accounts for 44% of operating expenses for a large container ship, according to Bloomberg. That’s a lot of fat to cut if the economics of automation stack up.
And no doubt they will, in time. Revenue would rise from more available storage space. And the ships would become more energy efficient with no humans on board.
The bigger hurdle will be the unions and other groups on the downside of the shift, who will fight the change. How far away are unmanned ships? No one’s really sure. But probably closer than we think.
Mind you, I don’t pretend to know a lot about the shipping business. But this is a battle that won’t just be fought on just that front.
This battle is going to be fought the world over
Take trucking in Australia, for instance. According to The Australian this morning, business groups are resisting a major pay rise due to take effect next month for owner-operator truck drivers.
In the context of today’s Daily Reckoning, the details of the case are probably not that important. You know the story anyway. The drivers want more money. Business wants to pay less.
It’s what looms over the debate that’s sticks out. And that’s a convoy of driverless trucks on the horizon. They’re already operating in Nevada in the United States.
Now UK Treasurer George Osborne is expected to announce in his 2016 Budget speech later this month that the UK will trial driverless trucks (‘lorries’).
These will be ‘platoons’, where the trucks move in groups, with the ones to the rear in the slipstream of the front vehicle. That reduces fuel consumption for the trucks behind.
Make no mistake. This is happening now. The groundwork for autonomous vehicles is being laid. In the automotive sector, global investments in industrial robots increased by a record-breaking 43% (2013–2014) within one year.
Sam Volkering, our resident tech expert, just released a special report on this for subscribers of Revolutionary Tech Investor.
‘If you think about the timeline it takes to get a car from concept to production, you’re looking at a four-year window, give or take. Car companies will begin to sign contracts for technology suppliers, materials and manufacturing changes today.
‘They will begin to ‘line up their ducks’ in 2016 in order to meet their targets for 2020. It means that, over the next 12–18 months, you’re likely going to start to see more partnerships and contract announcements between major car companies and smaller technology providers.
‘These providers will be tech companies that are crucial to making selfdriving car capable, reliable, and safe.’
You could call hunting for the companies set to benefit from this trend a spin on the old adage not to dig for gold but to sell shovels to the gold miners.
Certainty the opportunities the technology sector is going to present over the next decade are prodigious. To see the latest from Sam, go here.
Ed Note: This article was first published in Money Morning.