AI trends in 2020   

Despite the many challenges presented to humanity in 2020, AI technology research, development, and adoption is still moving ahead, although it is at a slower pace.

Last year, AI attracted much attention. The technology is filling frontline roles in customer contact, as well as providing unbiased analysis of big data, such as aiding in logistics analysis. Some of the most common industry applications last year include:

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants: focused on the development of Natural Language Processing (NLP). The chatbot market was last year worth US$2.6 billion.
  • Autonomous vehicles: an increasing number of car manufacturers are partnering with firms or researching autonomous vehicle options.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence are democratized and productionised: 37{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} of organizations have implemented AI in some form, a 270{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} increase in the past four years.
  • AI and ML responsibility and transparency: Amazon using an AI-based recruiting tool that turned out to be biased against female applicants set back AI roles, needing human control and supervision over automated solutions.

AI is one of the most dominant technologies at work today. In the financial sector, demand for AI and ML talent is high, absorbing 60{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} of talented employees on the market.

The AI market is predicted to reach US$390.9 billion by 2025, taking over the administration of repetitive tasks in manufacturing and taking on more roles in healthcare. This has become apparent with the tracking of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, we can expect to see further development of AI and ML in the following areas.

Natural language processing (NLP) – further development

In 2018, GPT-2 was released. However, fears over potential malicious use meant that OpenAI refused to make the model and dataset public.

While the company continued to release improved versions throughout last year, Google Brain earlier this year released Meena, a 2.6-billion parameter end-to-end neural conversational model trained on 341GB of online text.

NLP solutions are enjoyed by users who have embraced virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri. The Intelligent Virtual Assistants market is predicted to grow at 33{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} compound annual growth rate between now and 2025. The market was valued at US$2.1 billion last year. The main driver of growth is the proliferation of smartphones and other wearable intelligent devices.

Virtual assistants becoming more involved in business operations, further automating processes such as first point contact and manufacturing. According to research, 40{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} of business representatives are implementing voice technology this year.

Autonomous vehicles

The autonomous car is ever-closer to being rolled out. Much research and investment is going into the development of autonomous vehicles, but despite predictions that there would be 10 million autonomous vehicles on US roads by this year, it has been a slow project that continues to face numerous hurdles.

According to the US Department of Transportation, 63.3{735f2e4b65c3f1982e3012daf49d8651419bebdced28f8d40dc0564cadc91c3b} of goods shipped in 2017 were moved on roads. The aim to automate the industry is focused on the reduction of risk, optimised vehicle performance and improved logistics.

AI popularity

AI-powered solutions impact our daily lives. NLP powering virtual assistants like Google Assistant, have a strong influence on manufacturing, impacting prices and supply chains of goods.

AI is used in the following ways that many people are not even aware of:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Quality control
  • Manufacturing processes optimization
  • Office processes optimization

AI-powered solutions are behind the processes of many daily functions without people being aware. The generation of reports and analysis of big data, the streamlining of operations in manufacturing which helps reduce risk and improve performance has been improved by ML. Even within the home, smart devices that are voice-activated and that can learn routines or basic instruction are part of everyday life.

AI getting mainstream in culture and society

The general population has a little real understanding of AI, ML and robotics. There has been much literature about robots rebelling against humans, developing sentience and wreaking havoc. In reality, in these early stages of development, concerns are more focused on responsibility and legal frameworks than moral codes for machines.

The development of autonomous vehicles has necessitated a legal framework ascribing responsibility for accidents. Test drives have resulted in accidents, even deaths. At this time, the company testing the vehicle is held responsible, however, private ownership of an autonomous vehicle that causes an accident is a difficult question for legal entities to answer at this time.

AI applications are pushing governments to consider how legal regulations on model transparency as well as information about outcomes, and the reasons behind them, are pushed to the foreground. AI cannot be delivered in a black-box, especially as the number of decisions made automatically by AI-powered solutions increases.

AI is not only about high-end applications. Making AI and ML more accessible to people of all skill-levels and integrating robotics into areas of life which can be improved and made safer by the use of machines over human application. Robotics used in surgery, in quarantine situations to care for those who are highly contagious (as has been done in Italy during the 2020 pandemic) and in care roles for the elderly are aimed at easing pressure on systems with an ageing population.


While the 2020 AI Trends are similar to those of 2019, the details have changed. AI is ever more ubiquitous and ML is becoming more powerful.