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EFI chief executive Guy Gecht highlighted Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the next big thing for the industry in his opening address at EFI’s annual user conference, Connect.
Gecht had actually worked on an AI project when he was at university 30 years ago, which involved attempting to make a computer recognise different handwritten letters.
“It was very difficult for a computer to do that, and the key thing was could it learn over time. It was so tough [for the computer to achieve this], I thought ‘this isn’t going to happen in my lifetime’. But something happened and the AI space is accelerating at unbelievable speed.”
He said the AI revolution was being powered by big data, the “unbelievable computation power in the cloud” and the computing power in everyday devices.
“Technology everywhere is helping us to do more with less people,” Gecht stated. “Machine learning will watch the habits of customers.”
He said the often-talked-about ‘lights out’ print factory was becoming a reality.
He cited Printflow as EFI’s first learning software, and said the company was investing in other AI projects such as Smart Print Production, which has a major focus on preventive diagnostics and a goal of improving uptime by 20-25% and to improve the first time fix rate on service calls by 50%.
He quipped: “The robot that will make the keynote address in two or three years will introduce you to even more happy customers.”
However, he also shared research involving a survey of 1,000 people that showed how widespread people’s concerns are about the possible dangers of AI – the younger demographic of 18-34 year-olds were actually more concerned about its likely affect on jobs and the potential for ‘bad people to use AI to harm others’ than the general population.
Gecht’s address kicked off the event in Las Vegas, with some 1,000 customers from around the world in attendance.