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Brian Krzanich: Drones plus AI will power the next data revolution

LAS VEGAS — According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, if you want to see the makings of the next data revolution, all you need to do is look up.

“Look up” at drones, that is, Krzanich told the audience during his keynote at the InterDrone conference in Las Vegas.

Drones possess the ability to capture precise data for industries like agriculture, construction and infrastructure inspection, even in the most demanding situations and environments. As such,  unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs (the industry’s preferred term for drones) are one of the most important technologies of the data age, Krzanich said.

Intel has a special interest in the future role of UAVs in business. As the chip maker shifts from a PC-centric to a data-centric company, it sees drones as becoming a critical component in the quest to extract real, actionable value from data.

“But the future of drones is more about what you can do with that data and what that data means, and the insights it has [rather] than the actual flight itself, and that’s an important shift we all need to start thinking about,” Krzanich  stressed.

Drone-based data revolution

An important first step in this drone-based data revolution is making the collection of all this new data easy and seamless, he said.

Once the drones collect the data, AI technologies will play an important part in propelling the drone-based data revolution, Krzanich told the audience. Data is transforming every industry and providing opportunities, but it is the application of AI drives new business insights. That is true for UAVs, as well.  Otherwise, they are just a very complex, smart and expensive toy, Krzanich warned.

“When you bring those drones together with insights from big data and AI, the whole world will begin to change,” he proclaimed.

Intel Insight platform

Krzanich unveiled the Intel Insight Platform — Intel’s vision for expediting the path from data to insights — during his keynote. The platform, which is optimized for large data sets, is a cloud based system that allows customers to produce and generate data, push it to the cloud and analyze it and generate reports, he explained.

“As we continue to grow this database, just like every other AI engine, it will become smarter, become more capable and it will have more applications,” he touted.

The automation capabilities are integral to the evolution of UAVs, Krzanich said.  For example, in the near future drones could become a vital part of disaster response, so making them more automated and intelligent will be very important, he said.

“The future of drones is about making the drones easier to use, more intelligent, [and] driving the capability to the edge, simplifying the workload, automating the workload,” Krzanich said. “The industry needs to think one-touch and then analytics — that’s the real engine that will drive the value out of these devices as it is applied to all of the data that these systems are collecting.”

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It's a little surprising - though just a little - that no mention is made of privacy considerations. Drones overhead? Using AI-driven processes to gather information on...what? Disaster relief sounds good. But where does it stop...? Big data on who is using their back yard grills? How many cars are in a given parking lot at a given time? What socioeconomic status those cars rate the average user salary at...? This is a solution in search of a problem, and I don't mean merely a use case; rather, I mean that the solution just begs to be abused. The billionaires recently concerned about AI-driven, militarized robots should consider the repercussions of AI-driven surveillance drones.
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