The future of artificial intelligence won’t be in some robotics lab or in an underground R&D facility. It will be in a factory’s back office and in on the 24th floor of an office building. AI has officially left the first stage of its development.
When you think about artificial intelligence, don’t you think about things like IBM’s Watson and those strange Japanese robots that can learn your routines? I certainly did… until I started diving into what the big AI players were actually up to.
You see, NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) are the behemoths in this field. They make the graphics processing units, or GPUs, that are at the core of AI and machine learning. These are the bits and bobs that power and process the data AI uses to learn and react on its own.
Until somewhat recently, the incredibly powerful GPUs these companies were making for AI use were only really available to groups like MIT and companies like IBM. That’s just changed.
NVIDIA just started taking preorders for its Jetson Xavier Developer Kit. It looks like a small black box and seems rather unassuming. But what it contains is the foundation for what will likely be the vast majority of AI developments for years to come.
This Xavier Kit is packed with a powerful 8-core CPU (the main processor chip a computer uses to function) and an even more powerful 512-core GPU (the primary tool in the development of AI). Amazingly, this little box is just over four inches by four inches large. But it is capable of helping companies implement new artificial intelligence into their own systems and structures.
Again, I’m not talking about just the mega banks or the engineering departments of schools with billions in funding. I’m talking about the factory down the street. You see, these Jetson Kits are preordering for $2,500.
Think about that. 20 or 25 years ago, that’s what a PC cost. Companies large and small were switching over everything from payrolls to shipping orders from paper to digital. For many, especially anyone born after the early 90s, the idea of not having a PC to keep track of a business seems impossible. But that’s what businesses had done for centuries… paper and pencil.
In a few years, the idea of not having AI involved in a business’ processes and operations will seem just as foreign to kids being born today. It doesn’t necessarily matter if this particular developer’s kit is going to be the breakthrough for this revolutionary idea or not. The simple fact that the companies, specifically NVIDIA for now, are going to begin selling AI in a box kits like this is an incredible development.
And the Jetson kits aren’t the only groundbreaking news from the AI and GPU giant. At the giant Computex 2018 (the largest computer show/convention in the world), NVIDIA announced the Jetson alongside its new Isaac platform, which includes both hardware and software.
Isaac is specifically devoted to artificial intelligence for robotics. Manufacturing, agriculture and construction companies are going to be the primary end-users for Isaac. But just because this is more suited for robotics-specific industries doesn’t mean it will be limited in any way. After all, manufacturing makes up more than $1 in every $10 of GDP in the U.S. Agriculture adds another 6% of total GDP. The list goes on. Isaac’s potential market, therefore, is quite large. And NVIDIA knows it.
These developments are new and exciting. But more importantly, they are changing how businesses can think about improving their own efficiency and logistics.
While we all know that the high-tech labs of MIT, the Pentagon (as we discussed on Tuesday) and mega companies can produce revolutionary products we use every day like smartphones, PCs and the internet, real change comes when other businesses, large and especially small, get access to AI to develop their own ideas with that technology.