Looking back at the pace of innovation over the last 10 years, it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine a world without artificial intelligence (AI). AI – and specifically machine learning – has made huge strides into mainstream technology, not least through the use of convolutional neural networks or CNNs.

By forming networks of layers designed to extract general describing features of an item, CNNs have achieved significant improvements over previous techniques. Since the breakthroughs in neural networks in the ImageNet challenge back in 2012 , we have seen the application of machine learning used to solve generic classification problems, from identifying cats and dogs to spotting cancer, with better than human accuracy.

AI has been an important area of research and investment. The next challenge for AI, though, is to go from general applications to more niche, deep models, seeking to give one company the ultimate competitive advantage over its peers…