Top Trends in Artficial Intelligence 2021

Ai in business Jan 06, 2021

Most industries have faced mass disruption in 2020. One industry which has experienced continued growth is the tech  industry. People are now learning to adapt to the new normal and  services that automate manual processes have become invaluable. Within  this the AI industry has particularly thrived with the IDC valuing the  industry at £156.5 Billion a 12.3% growth since 2019.
With digital maturity being more important than ever, it is likely that the industry will continue to boom into 2021. Here are some of the trends in AI advancement you are likely to see this year.

AI for Good

With  the use of AI becoming standard practice in many industries it is then  expected that much of the stigma and fear of the rise of artificial  intelligence is also dissipating. One industry in particular where implementation of AI is highlighting AI’s potential for good is in the healthcare industry, where its use has been vital to successful attempts in managing the pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, the health care industry has been forced to create systems to cater  to different requirements then before, managing both those affected by  the pandemic and patients suffering with other conditions. AI has  simplified this process through the automation of processes such as  managing hospital capacity and tracking vital patient data to flag the  patients who are in urgent need.

One  area within the automation of healthcare which has been gaining  traction and we is likely to boom over 2021 is the use of robotics.  Robots have been put into action in hospitals in the US this year to  reduce the pressures that are being placed on healthcare workers and we  are only likely to see wider application of this in the coming year.

The  rapid progress in the use of AI in healthcare has showcased the  potential in using AI for good and so in 2021 we are likely to continue  to see AI technology being adapted to meet societal needs.

AI for Outbreak Prevention

With  2021 seeing the wide availability of a Covid-19 vaccine we are hopeful  to see a global drop in cases across 2021. If we are to see the end of  the pandemic It is still as vital as ever to prevent outbreaks of the  virus. Key to this prevention will be the use of AI in contact tracing  software. In the UK we have seen the cost of ineffective contact tracing  software, with the UK treasury allocating £12 billion to the  development of track & trace system.   We have begun to see AI contact tracing software implemented across the  world with successful uses such as in Singapore. However, while there  are successful examples there is currently inconsistency in the  effectiveness of implementations. Across 2021 we hope to see AI being  used universally in the prevention of virus outbreaks, allowing for more  effective and automated contact tracing systems which do not require  people to manually scan into locations or fill out forms, similar to Singapore’s. Systems may also leverage other modern AI technologies  such as computer vision, which has been tested in China to provide  automated contact tracing using surveillance cameras. Widespread use of  these technologies over the coming year will allow 2021 to be the year that we see the power AI possesses in prevention of virus outbreaks.


The wider AI community has seen a rise in demand for greater transparency concerning how the technology operates. With what seems to be a constant deluge of news surrounding unethical and biased Artificial Intelligence in 2020, it is only a matter of time before government regulations are brought in  to tackle the issue. In layman's terms this is the question of why an AI  system makes decisions. Without transparency over the decision-making processes the technology cannot be held accountable if it encounters a fault. Artificial Intelligence is being used more and more to inform decisions making from parole hearings to environmental predictions, making any fault potentially catastrophic.

Major corporations and government agencies have tried to bring a standardised playbook to how we can create transparent AI, however they are yet to adequately deal with the issue of intellectual property. When the decision-making processes are the product it is difficult to suggest full visibility over a system. Conversations surrounding what should be considered transparent and what is protected property are likely to continue in 2021. Companies that design their technology with a mindset of full accountability will see the least disruption when inevitable regulations are brought in.

Smarter not Bigger

Artificial Intelligence’s environmental impact became a hot topic issue at the end of 2020. With Google attempting to censor Dr Timnit Gebru’s paper highlighting the carbon emissions caused by large AI systems forming the catalyst for this conversation. At Brainpool’s end of year party for our expert community a majority of our members cited GPT-3, a new language prediction tool, as the most interesting development in AI in 2020. GPT-3 has however been criticized for its massive environmental impact, reportedly the equivalent of the yearly energy consumption of 126 homes. The massive amount of energy required for Artificial Intelligence is becoming problematic.

Originally AI began in a similar vein to mobile phones that became larger the more processing power they required. These two paths diverge when smart technologies were deployed in phone hardware, allowing for smaller machines with improved optimisation. If  modern AI where a mobile phone it would be the equivalent of carrying  around a telephone box in your back pocket. The training systems require vast amounts raw data to be effective, resulting in massive power consumption. Methods of teaching AI are largely inefficient, forcing more complex technologies to rely on size rather than smarts. As the environmental impact ramps up it is likely we will see responses from the AI community to develop smarter and more efficient training for their models.

Written by Dominic Richmond and Joe Duszynski-Lewis

Brianpool AI

Brainpool is an artificial intelligence consultancy specialising in developing bespoke AI solutions for business.