A Roadtrip to AI

Press Review

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This article was published in the December issue of World Cement in 2017.

With one foot in its science fiction past and the other in our daily lives, artificial intelligence (AI) is making steady inroads into the logistics workplace. While human-level AI is not yet looming around the corner, a practical degree of AI can help planners and dispatchers in the cement industry to drive their performance.

■ by Thomas Bergmans and Dirk Schlemper, INFORM GmbH, Germany

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This quote is one of the three laws that were formulated by science fiction author and legend Arthur C. Clarke. It is by far the most popular of all three laws and often just referred to as "Clarke's Law". When he published it in 1973, computer technology was still in its infancy.

If one went back to the 1970s, stopped at a cement plant, pulled out a smartphone, and showed Google Maps to the dispatchers and logistics planners, he would certainly be hailed as one of the greatest wizards of all times. And although parts of the technology behind smartphones can be classified as artificial intelligence, practically nobody today would see it as “scary smart”. Route planners have become basic tools that get us from A to B.

The public’s perception of what AI is, or should be, changes over time and the pace of change is accelerating daily. The minute a smart device becomes widely accepted, it is downgraded to a mere tool.

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