The age of intelligent machines

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Humankind is moving from an information age to the age of intelligent machines, with consequences for the world of work, the economy and society. The transition is driven by the explosion in the amount of digital data that is now available, artificial intelligence (AI) programmes that can analyse the data for the benefit of humanity, and intelligent robots that are able to work independently.

The Winter 2016 edition of Pictet Report includes a talk with the co-author of a best-selling book on the second machine age, who says these developments mean that machines are now able to beat human beings at their own game. As a result, they are acquiring astonishing capabilities in a range of activities previously in the realm of science fiction.

Other entrepreneurs describe some of these activities they were working on. The abundance of new shipping data, for example, is providing real visibility on what is happening at sea – including illicit activities. New AI programmes are analysing huge amounts of financial data and documents to help make investment decisions for wealth and asset managers. And robotic book scanners that digitise printed books are using AI to access human knowledge previously locked up in handwritten documents.

Some of the most exciting innovations are in robotics, where a new generation of soft robots can interact with humans. Robotic surgery is revolutionising the work of surgeons, while a robot chef is on the launch-pad for use in the home. The co-founder of an AI company is harnessing global computer capacity to help solve the world’s most complex problems.

Also in this issue of Pictet Report, the manager of the Pictet Robotics fund at Pictet Asset Management explains how he selects companies in these new digital technologies to invest in. And the founder of a leading European venture fund describes the qualities he looks for in tech entrepreneurs when investing in start-ups.

Finally, a youthful entrepreneur speaks about his pioneering technology for removing the plastic trash floating in the world’s oceans, which endangers marine species and pollutes the human food chain.

We hope that you will enjoy learning more about the remarkable technological developments described in this issue and the equally remarkable entrepreneurs behind them.