Draganfly CEO sees human AI implants by 2045 (and plenty of drones)

AI designers and engineers of the future are likely to come from the ranks of today’s online gamers, not necessarily university graduates in data science or engineering.

That’s one of many predictions from Cameron Chell, an entrepreneur and innovator who is also CEO of Draganfly, the world’s oldest operating commercial drone manufacturer and tech systems developer.

“The talent will come out of entertainment and gaming, those groups that get together to play games in basements and share stories and movies,” he said in an interview with Fierce Electronics. The full interview will appear on Aug. 12 as part of Fierce AI Week. (Registration required online, but the event is free.)

That view might make Microsoft’s Bill Gates smile but could cause some university engineering deans to cringe.  Universities will still be important for accreditations and certifications for all manner of engineers but won’t necessarily be the domains of creativity needed for AI, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic will certainly impact how universities operate in the future and has applied the kind of culture-changing pressure that could help mold AI technology in coming years, he argued.  That kind of pressure “is actually a good thing” for affecting change, he said.

During the interview, Chell also set a rough timeline for all the good and creepy things that AI will bring. 

In five years, he said drones will be able to think for themselves to navigate a course and complete a task.  Today, they already can avoid obstacles while setting out on a human-programmed course.  In 15 to 20 years there won’t be any object that can’t think and share data.  It could even be a toaster that analyzes your health and wellbeing in the morning while prepping the toast just the way you want it on that particular day, he suggested.

In 25 years, AI machines will be small enough to be implanted in a human, perhaps molecular in size, Chell said.  (Yes, implanted.  That’s 61 years after The Terminator first was released in theaters.)

While Chell offered what some might consider wild predictions for artificial intelligence, he also described how Draganfly is already using large datasets for down-to-earth applications including cameras on drones to measure temperature, coughing and heartbeat among people in crowds, which can be useful for tracking the spread of a disease like COVID-19.  Draganfly is also fixing magnetometers aboard drones to fly over tracts of land to help mining companies spot where to dig for precious metals.

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During a virtual OTC Markets conference recently, Chell told investors that Draganfly is on pace to achieve $5.5 million in revenues in 2020 with a bright future opportunity in the health and mining sectors. Dow and Shell are big customers, but Draganfly also has various defense contracts.  Armies can deploy Draganfly drones to carry blood supplies to injured soldiers, for example.  Because of COVID-19 and a U.S. trade ban on using Chinese-made drones, Draganfly is well suited for growth, he argued.