DELTA Summit: Smart cities with connected infrastructure and transport systems on the horizon

From traffic lights turning green for ambulances to smart appliances, Internet of Things is set to change our lives

Angelo Dalli, second from right, said that one problem with AI is that while it can provide answers, it doesn't show its work
Angelo Dalli, second from right, said that one problem with AI is that while it can provide answers, it doesn't show its work

The next five to ten years will see the further development of Internet of Things technologies, creating a huge inter-connected network of infrastructure, transport systems and household devices, sector pundits have said.

IoT is a technology through which our assets - from fridges to cars - talk to each other, giving us the possibiliy to control and monitor them and ensure they are working as they should.

Geoffrey Farrugia, CEO at HandsOn Systems and one of the speakers at today's DELTA Summit, said his company had already translated IoT technology to real world use, such as by creating a device used by insurance companies to monitor driving patterns.

Geoffrey Farrugia
Geoffrey Farrugia

"[Our company] has been involved in a number of initiatives, including one where an IoT device installed inside a vehicle measures driving usage and patterns, allowing insurance companies to understand the risk profile of their clients better," Farrugia. This system was advantageous as it provided insurance companies with real-time data instead of just statistics.

The company is also providing an IoT technology service wherein parents are sent information on their mobile phone when their children are embarking or disembarking their bus transport system. This, he said, is a high tech alternative to using a manual control system to check whether students have all boarded their school minibus.

But the uses of IoT go far beyond this, he said.

"IoT is here to stay and we are now seeing the concept of smart cities... whereby all the infrastructure, transportation systems are inter-connected," Farrugia underscored, "[..] IoT, for instance, will enable traffic lights to change to green for an ambulance to pass through."

The processing and analysis of the data gathered by IoT devices, Farrugia said, will require the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and possibly other technologies, such as blockchain.

Farrugia added that IoT plays an important role in the whole workflow, because it collects data instantaneously. "If data isn't collected immediately, it can be already expired... such as in the example of the ambulance," he said.

Future AI needs to explain itself

Although AI has been around for a long time, one of its key problems is that, while it is able to learn and come up with an answer, it does not provide an explanation for how it arrived to that answer, computer scientist Angelo Dalli said.

Dalli, an expert on AI who also spoke during the DELTA Summit, said that the future of AI could include a closer element of interaction between humans and computer, whereby the system explains how it came to a conclusion.

Angelo Dalli
Angelo Dalli

"Once a deep learning system is deployed, you don't know if it will improve if you train it again - it is just a monologue which doesn't communicate with you. Once you train the system, you deploy it and forget it, and play and hope whether it will give the correct answers. But explainable AI - which leads to collaboration - can solve this," Dalli said.

Using the example of an AI which analyses an X-ray and tells the doctor what it thinks the patient is suffering from, Dalli said that a traditional AI system would just give a diagnosis, while an explainable AI would explain what led to it reaching such a conclusion, and what alternative diagnoses might be.

"We are working for an AI that works through a two-way dialogue, an AI which isn't an oracle and which humans work with as partners," Dalli said, adding that such an AI could lead to the betterment of humanity.

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