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From the Editor: Considering Artificial Intelligence

AI is on the horizon. What does that mean for your print shop?




I’m always late. To everything. It’s a known fact. I often wonder if it’s the fear of being too early that has settled in the back of my mind, as if having to stand around for a minute or two would be a waste of my time. But the more realistic reason is that I think I need 60 minutes when really I need 70. Right when I should be leaving I start to make coffee, check my email, or touch up my makeup, and there goes 10 minutes.

But what if I didn’t need those extra 10 minutes every morning, and still got to wake up at my normal time? My iPhone tells my Keurig I’m awake, and my coffee’s ready for me as I run out the door. Alexa is reading my email as I gather my things. And I can do my makeup in the car because I don’t need my hands to drive.

It would be a game-changer. A true miracle: Adrienne got from A to B on time. Is that an incredible thought for the future, or is it a little scary to know technology could control so much of your everyday life? According to Stephen Hawking in an interview with the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” That’s saying something.

At a I attended, the welcome keynote topic focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and its foreseeable future in not only our day-to-day world, but also the digital printing industry, due to new technologies and market demand. [The Oxford English Dictionary defines AI as the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.]

Companies like Google, Tesla, and Uber, with their self-driving or “hands-free” vehicles, are testing out the realistic possibility of AI for everyday, consumer use and basing their research on customer behavior. The machines learn habits of drivers by watching them. And, as we know in the digital print world, consumer behavior is constantly influencing on-demand and personalized print production.

How could AI affect your print shop? Management duties? Workflow and production? Web-to-print offerings? What about preventive diagnostics and predictive maintenance? What are the opportunities here? What are the potential risks? Do you think you’ll live to see the day where robots are running your shop floor? Whether you’re optimistic or leaning more toward the dark side like Hawking, artificial intelligence is on the horizon.


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