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It’s all around us. From the moment you wake up to when you go to bed at night, Transformation of AI (artificial intelligence) drives much of what we do. AI has woven itself so completely into our lives, we’re not even aware of how it functions in our decision-making.

What is AI

Simply put, AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to intelligence displayed by animals and humans. YES – machines can think. What you thought was science fiction only a few years ago is now a reality. The list of what AI can do is endless:

  • Online banking
  • Chatbots
  • Digital voice assistants like Siri, Alexa & Google Assistant
  • Facial and image recognition
  • Music and media streaming
  • Apps
  • Social media
  • Ordering food
  • Driving aids – route mapping, traffic updates, weather conditions
  • Uber and Lyft
  • Online Shopping
  • Drones
  • Assembly-line robots
  • Farming – improve harvest quality and accuracy
  • Gaming
  • Healthcare – genetic sequencing research, treating tumors & developing tools to cure Alzheimer’s
  • Robotics
  • Education – AI isn’t a way to avoid learning, it’s a tool for accelerating learning.

How Does AI Work

AI works by combining large amounts of data with fast processing and intelligent algorithms, allowing the software to learn automatically from patterns or features in the data.

AI adapts through progressive learning algorithms to let the data do the programming. It finds structure and regularities in data so that algorithms can learn skills. Just as an algorithm can teach itself to play chess, it can teach itself what product to recommend when you’re shopping online.

Who Invented AI

The first form of AI was invented in England in 1951. Alan Turing, a young British scientist, explored the mathematical possibility of artificial intelligence. Turing proposed a radical idea that humans use information as well as the reason to solve problems and make decisions, so why can’t machines do the same thing? This was the framework of his 1950 paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence where he wrote about intelligent machines and how to test their intelligence.

The first artificial intelligence program was held at the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence (DSRPAI) in 1956. This research laid the foundations for what we now consider the science of AI.

From 1957 to 1974, AI flourished. Computers could store more information and become faster, cheaper, and more accessible. Machine learning algorithms also improved. Still, these computers were too weak to exhibit intelligence.

The memory and speed of computers finally caught up in the 90’s and in many cases, surpassed our needs. This is how IBM’s Deep Blue was able to defeat Gary Kasparov in chess, and how Google’s Alpha Go was able to defeat a Chinese Go champion only a few months ago.

Today, AI software and devices imitate human thought processes to help society move forward. We are all familiar with chatbots – AI programs that can answer questions and deliver relevant content to consumers with common queries. Sometimes, chatbots are so advanced that it seems like you’re interacting with a real person.

The use of AI will only continue to expand. Forecasts for the data analytics industry predict exponential expansion in the big data gathering sector. In their Global Big Data Analytics Forecast for 2023, research firm Frost and Sullivan projects growth at 29.7%, worth an astonishing $40.6 billion.

The Pros

Humans can’t match AI when it comes to analyzing large datasets. For a human to go through 10,000 lines of data on a spreadsheet would take days, if not weeks. AI can do it in minutes.

Plus, AI works very well for doing ‘grunt work’ while keeping the overall strategy decisions and ideas to humans.

The Cons

AI lacks creativity. It bases its decisions on what happened in the past. By definition then, it’s not well suited to coming up with new or innovative ways to look at problems or solutions.

Another downside is that AI will lead to increased unemployment as machines begin to replace human workers in a variety of industries.

Some uses of AI are unlikely to impact human jobs. For example, the image processing AI in cars allows for automatic braking to prevent a crash. That’s not replacing a job. An AI-powered robot assembling cars in a factory, that’s probably going to replace a job.

AI technology also raises ethical concerns. Humans will need to adapt as AI replaces more jobs. In order to feel their life has a purpose, humans need to be receptive to new activities that give them the same social and mental benefits that their jobs used to provide.

Additionally, since AI algorithms are built by humans, they can have a built-in bias by those who introduce them into the algorithm. If AI algorithms are built with a bias, they will produce results that are biased.

ChatGPT

In November 2022, OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, a new AI tool that can tell stories and write code. GPT stands for “Generative Pre-training Transformer.” This revolutionary platform has the potential to take over many roles traditionally held by humans, like copywriting, coding, answering customer questions, writing news reports, and creating legal documents.

ChatGPT can also conduct a conversation and comprehends our instruction to provide an answer with emoticons and in language, a 10-year-old can understand. It is both exciting and scary.

The Future

In the immediate future, AI language looks like the next big thing. In fact, it’s already here. When was the last time you called a company and spoke directly with a human?

In the long term, the goal is general intelligence, that a machine surpasses human cognitive abilities in all tasks. More ethical questions will arise as AI becomes more and more intelligent. But for now, we will allow AI to improve our lives and make difficult tasks easier.

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(Source: Rockwell Anyola, Harvard University)