Soft AI (artificial intelligence) and Spatial Technologies

As the Wall Street Journal has stated yesterday, “‘Soft’ Artificial Intelligence is Suddenly Everywhere”  Also called weak or narrow AI, soft artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer or other machine to perform complex activities that are “inspired by but don’t mimic, the human brian”.   The media coverage of soft AI, like coverage of many new technologies, focuses on computer science and engineering, but many of the technologies they use as examples, from satellites, cars, wearable technologies, to encompassing city systems and space travel, are in fact geospatial technologies.  openshaw_ai

While, soft AI might be new to other fields,  Artificial Intelligence Methods Applied to Satellite Remote Sensing and other spatial applications have been  integrated into geospatial research and later the geospatial profession since before Stan Openshaw wrote his book on Artificial Intelligence in Geography (1997).  Oddly, a brief search of the terms location based AI, spatial AI, and similar terms found tons of examples of spatial AI innovation, but not many examples of soft AI being referred to as a spatial technology.

The upcoming Twenty-ninth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence is being held on January 25-30 and will focus on successful applications of AI technology. It will be interesting to find how many of those soft AI technologies are strongly spatial.

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