2020 serves as a milestone in the history of digital transformation for many organisations if not industries. With some of the most remarkable AI leaders and experts on board, here is an overview of the AI trajectory in 2021.


Article by Livia Spiesz, SwissCognitive, based on AI experts’ and leaders’ input at SwissCognitive’s CognitiveVirtual, 17 Dec 2020

With the input from some of the most outstanding minds in the AI ecosystem, it is clear: the gear has been shifted – the long-standing opportunity for digital transformation supported by cognitive technologies has turned into a necessity. In fact, there may not only be a need for changing gears, but also for an entire reset. This is due to historic data losing its relevance fast and massive amount of new high-frequency data being created.

Putting the spotlight on various industries from the perspective of AI, we can recognise a sharp shift – what was not priority before, from one day to the other, became urgency. In healthcare for instance, where the need for urgent drug development landed on top of humankind’s global agenda, we can witness a more active deployment of cognitive technologies translating into more optimized and accelerated processes, directly impacting research, development and clinical trials. In virtual healthcare services supported by new technologies have also accelerated – reaching regions where access to medical assistance before was not possible. In industrial engineering, based on an extraordinary amount of data that is at a phase that humans are unable to process, the application of AI has increasingly started to contribute to more accurate forecasting, supporting the entire process of the supply chain. In cyberspace – where the use of AI is clearly twofold, being that to our best and worse advantage – both the attack and defence side increased speed of development. In the food industry, where balancing the harmony of demand and supply is an growing challenge, due to rapid fluctuations in the climate and weather, pandemics, droughts and tsunamis for instance “swarm AI” is gaining an increasing role. Finally, with the core intending to sustain our natural world, there have been also great leaps forward in the application of AI and Deep Learning.    

While approaching the end of the challenging 2020, the shift in the use of cognitive technologies has not only been outstanding across industries but also across organisations. To keep up with peers and competitors, the pressure is certainly on for organisation for deploying AI, but if it is not done responsibly, there is a backslash from various stakeholders in the ecosystem. This is where ethics and responsible AI come into play and will become even more vital in 2021 and beyond putting its stamp on technology development throughout industries and organisations.

Joint forces across disciplines, academia, research, society, business, the private and the public sector, NGOs, with leaders and experts in prominent positions will continue playing a fundamental role in the forthcoming year to ensure that the development serves the benefits of all layers and aspects of humanity. Having open and transparent discussions with as many stakeholders as possible at the same table with clear intention of emerging technologies augmenting human qualities and capabilities will skyrocket to the top of the global agenda. In 2021, the now minimal yet growing carbon footprint of AI will gain priority too, as well as the solution to balanced data-sharing privacy creating a parallel line between development and the discretion of personal data.

On a whole, our global challenges in 2021 will demand our openness and trust of cognitive technologies even more. With international collaboration we can achieve this on the common grounds of ethics, privacy, security and reliability. We will need to shift our focus from our challenges to solutions and recognise how technology can support us in various aspects of our lives. To prepare for the future, we will urgently need to start thinking about upskilling and reskilling – ensuring that humans and technology develop hand in hand. We will need to take automatization more seriously and put human qualities into action where technologies cannot reach. With the arrival of the new year, we will need to start making better use of the thousand years’ worth of data and turn it to business’ and society’s advantage.

We must not forget: Technology on its own is neutral. It is the human factor that makes a difference. By blending human and artificial intelligence we will achieve another level in wisdom.


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CognitiveVirtual event recording – HERE

CognitiveVirtual event website –  HERE