The concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) conjures up fear for many people. As we enter the final two years of this decade, there are two things I know for sure. One is that the speed of change is going to continue at a faster rate. The second is that while the prospect of robots replacing human beings is very real, it will take another 15-20 years to hit critical mass. There are many pathways for people and organizations to seize the potential and opportunity offered by AI. In this article, we examine the history of AI, how AI is showing up today in our lives and in our beauty cabinets, and how cosmetic companies can build and innovate with AI.
What is AI?
We can find reference to intelligent machines dating back to Greek mythology, but it wasn’t until modern computing became available after World War II that we started to see the creation of programs that perform difficult intellectual tasks.
You can find a formal definition of AI on many sites, but I like this one best from the old-school Encyclopedia Britannica. “Artificial intelligence (AI), [is] the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.”
The key to this definition is “systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic,” which means that they can sense and learn about the environment, and then process options to make decisions from the learning. For decades, we have accumulated data that is now being combined and processed in real time. These advances are where we are seeing a transformation in the way we live and interact with technology and each other.
How is AI showing up in our lives?
Machines that automated industrial factories started becoming a big part of our society during the 1950s. At the start of the present decade, in February 2011, IBM’s Watson competed against two Jeopardy champions and won. Little did we know that this event would represent the start of AI entering our homes, and that before this decade comes to an end, AI will be providing up to 30% of care given to children under 5.
How? When you go to a restaurant, look around and see the number of children under 5 who are being “entertained” by something on a phone or another device. And many homes have monitors that watch, sense, alert, inform on every movement in the home and specifically in the rooms where children play and sleep.
Christmas 2017 saw a boom in sales of AI devices like Amazon Echo, Google Alexa, and even Mattel’s Aristotle, which is a bot, like an Amazon Echo for kids. This device can record children’s video and audio and has an uninterrupted connection to the internet. Cognitoys are transforming the way children play, sense, learn, and interact with intelligent toys that have no screen. These become toys that are not only entertaining but become a companion to a small child.
Looking towards the horizon, a renowned think tank called the Institute for the Future (ITFF) provides foresight training and tools to help companies gain insight into life in the future. They publish many reports, but one that caught my attention was their 2012 report “Information Eco-Systems of Well-Being: 2032,” which outlines the transformation in health and well-being they predict will occur by the year 2032. According to their studies and foresight thinking, they report, “In some areas, the machines will become our collaborators, augmenting our own skills and abilities. In other domains, the robots will replace humans, freeing us up to do the things we’re good at and actually enjoy—or taking livelihood away from people who did those things professionally. Having automated systems that literally and figuratively guide us as we move through life will transform how we work, shop, parent, connect, and take care of ourselves and each other.”
What is AI in beauty?
In cosmetics, beauty, and wellness, we are witnessing AI in exciting ways. Data has been collected for years, and we can now begin to connect the dots between behavior and what leads to longer and more vibrant living. Wearable technology that allows us to monitor our steps, sleep, and other insights into how our body functions are one of the indisputable ways that intelligence around beauty and wellness has become part of our lives.
The In-Cosmetics show 2017, in London, provided formulators the opportunity to touch, feel, and try products that offer unusual textures and sensations. Their interactive sensory bar opens up thinking and access to ingredients and formulations in cosmetics that have the potential to change the type of product we will see on the shelf.
Personalization in cosmetics using AI is moving at a particularly fast rate with new market entries in every class of cosmetics from hair care and skincare to nail care. For example, technology is being used to engineer high-volume, micro-batch, rapid prototyping systems for the manufacture of unique nail polish, using 11 shades of color to create 16 million nail shade options. Using a mobile app, users can take a picture of anything in the world and transform that color into a custom nail polish. The information gathered by the photograph is rapidly processed and transformed into a color formula that is sent to a smart machine that dispenses and mixes the polish, one bottle at a time.
Sephora is using AI to give consumers an opportunity to “try on” different looks in makeup through their app. Other brands apply customization to blending lipstick and foundations.
In health care, we are on the verge of an information revolution. After decades of generating unprecedented amounts of data, formulators, manufacturers, and medical professionals can now connect the dots and understand the promise this data holds for our health and well-being.
ITFF reports that by 2022, “we’ll see innovators creating tools to harness the flow of data and make it actionable.” In an even longer view for the opportunities that lie ahead, ITFF has data that supports the fact that many of the technologies and trends in play in 2022 will not reach their full potential until a decade later. By 2032, much of the learning and experiences we will have with AI in beauty, health, and wellness will have run its course and consensuses will have been reached. It is in this time frame that new beauty, health, and information practices and services will become mainstream.
Implications for the tndustry
Today there are many things happening in the world that at first glance seem weird or on the periphery of society. Perhaps even irrelevant. These are exactly the things, let’s call them “signals,” that beauty and wellness professionals need to start including in our awareness.
What is a signal? One such signal is that children under the age of 5 have up to 30% of their care provided by AI. What will our products need to do, have, and provide for these children when they are 15+?. How will they see the world as compared to the way we see it? Another signal is the 7.4 billion people living on earth and the number of Americans living to, and past, 100. According to CBS News, the number of Americans above the age of 100 has increased more than 43%, from 50,281 a decade and a half ago to 72,197 in 2014.
In 2012, combinatorial research approaches are beginning to blend biological sciences, materials science, robotic engineering, and nanotechnology to create new therapies and medical interventions. By 2032, new medical professions will have entered the global health economy to deliver twenty-first-century clinical care that integrates nanostructures, artificial intelligence, smart implants and prosthetics, and robotic surgery.
How can companies plan for AI in the future?
As much as we would like to be able to travel through time to predict the future, are there things we can do to be prepared for what it holds? The tools for assessing data and applying the learning is at the heart of AI.
In the spring of 2017, the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) had a supply chain professor from the University of Arizona, Dr. Dale Roger, address distributors. The key things I got from this informative lecture about the impact of AI and the Internet of Things on our industry started with his statement that “As a supply chain matures it becomes more complex—not simpler.”
There are more types of players required in a mature supply chain, which will provide many opportunities for distribution if distributors can find their value proposition. The highest-paying jobs will be for those who learn how to run the technology and innovate with it. Many more jobs, but lower-paying jobs, will be for those who don’t learn how to run the technology but will have to service the technology or clean up after it.
Dr. Rogers sites a good case study on how one company figured it out in the last century: McKesson.
Early pioneer therapeutic drugs started in 1833
First to persuade several wholesale firms to manufacture drugs (private label)
1900 – saw the need to manage drugs and so they invented the barcode
Began offering services to help others manage the supply chain
Today McKesson is the oldest and largest health care company in the nation, serving more than 50% of US hospitals and 20% of physicians. They deliver one-third of all medications used daily in North America with operations in more than 16 countries
Start now by getting involved with all the opportunities both inside and outside of the industry to learn about and find applications for AI. Look at your organization and determine if your leadership style is cultivating a culture of innovation. Be willing to take risks and build your organization tto learn together and faster.
IBM Watson has applications across many industries. Organizations like PBA, CEW, BIW, and others are engaging brilliant minds to stimulate our thoughts and share intelligence. In 2018 the Beauty Industry Market Access (BIMA) program, a division of American Made Beauty, will facilitate a beauty and wellness industry focused Foresight Forum. After studying with and through the ITFF, we will present tools to the industry to help individuals and organizations develop the mindset where we are open to new possibilities and can give ourselves permission to run toward the daunting questions and big opportunities that seem just beyond today, and understand them ahead of time.
Companies that can figure out what lies ahead, how to leverage AI and nanotechnology, and all the advances in biological science, in a safe way, have the greatest opportunity. While change is happening fast, it takes 2-5 years for new technologies and human behaviors to change. Companies that can figure out how to change faster inside their companies than the market is changing, will be ahead of the curve. Remember, mainstream adaptation will take 15-20 years. This provides a nice ramp-way for innovation. The key is to start now.
Author: Patty Schmucker Founder of American Made BeautyCLICK HERE to read more about our fearless leader!
This article first appeared on the BeautyMatter blog CLICK HERE to visit their website.