How artificial intelligence will force a rethink of the manufacturing process

artificial intelligence

Smart manufacturing used to be the “wave of the future.” Now, it is the future, and the future is here! Find out what that could mean for your business by attending a presentation by Kayed Almasarweh, Executive Architect and Client Technical Advisor for IBM Corp. (Armonk, NY), on June 13 from 10:30 to 11 AM at PLASTEC East. In this Q&A, Almasarweh previews some of the topics he will address during his session, "How Will AI Change Manufacturing Over the Next 5 Years?"

Co-located with five other trade shows devoted to medical design and manufacturing, automation, packaging and more, PLASTEC East is part of the East Coast’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event. It comes to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, NY, on June 12 to 14.


PlasticsToday: What can artificial intelligence (AI) do that human intelligence (HI) cannot? 

Kayed Almasarweh: The real value of AI is not necessarily in it being smarter than HI, since, after all, we humans are the ones trying to replicate and infuse our intelligence and knowledge into machines to get them to think on their own and take intelligent actions on our behalf. There are differences in a few areas:

  • AI enables doing things much faster and at scale;
  • AI adapts and can inject newer knowledge and training much faster;
  • AI can be quickly replicated, meaning that we can copy the brain of a machine and paste it in thousands of other machines and get them to do work almost instantly;
  • and finally, those machines can work around the clock without requiring eight hours of sleep or the love and care that humans need and can’t do without.

I am sure that I missed couple, but as you can see these key differentiators will serve as a huge accelerator for many innovations, some of which are just around the corner, that will show up in multiple industries.

PlasticsToday: What are the limits, if any, of AI? What are the limits, if any, of HI?

Almasarweh: Excellent question. If we agree that there is no limit to the information that exists out there and the data that is being collected about things around us, then it is safe to say that, in theory, the intelligence of both man and machine can be limitless. However, AI runs on a computer and storage infrastructures and that can be limited by physics. Over time, limits will continue to be pushed farther and farther and hurdles will be removed.

Another side to this question is what limits we, as a society, will impose on the growth or utilization of AI in our daily lives. Industry leaders have different opinions on that. Some advocate certain regulations and others believe there should not be any, so we need to wait and see.

At IBM, and as our Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty indicated on multiple occasions, we believe that AI and cognitive computing systems will augment human intelligence and make us more effective and democratize knowledge, which will be a huge improvement to the way we give and receive services today and in the future across all industries.

The Smart Manufacturing Education Hub at PLASTEC East, part of the largest advanced design and manufacturing trade show and conference on the East Coast, explores themes such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and 3D printing. The event comes to the Javits in New York, NY, from June 12 to 14, 2018. Register now!

PlasticsToday: Are there limits to what manufacturers can do with a human workforce? 

Almasarweh: As you know, manufacturing as a system involves people, processes, resources and a unique approach to get all of them together to bring about products to meet requirements defined by technical specifications, safety and environmental regulations, usability, and a lot of other constraints. So, the process flow needs to be precisely orchestrated within the right boundaries so the final product meets market standards and delivers value.

Both AI and HI are needed, and they augment each other to achieve interconnected objectives. AI will benefit initially from the human experience and knowledge ingested to build it. As it grows and becomes richer and more capable—via machine and deep learning—it will benefit from continued validation by HI and human expertise to enhance its value to the manufacturing process. Augmentation of the two—AI and HI—will be the optimal combination to get the most value and move up to the next phase of higher efficiency.

PlasticsToday: How is AI currently used to benefit manufacturing operations? How do you see it evolving over the next five years? 

Almasarweh: First let me mention that AI is really not that new. We had some implementations of it in unique use cases in the past. You might remember the IBM Deep Blue supercomputer, which became the first machine to beat a world

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