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One of the most talked about and exciting areas of technological innovation is the study of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but what exactly is AI? Artificial Intelligence is defined 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," so what does that mean? The goal of this short blog is to provide the reader with a better understanding of what AI is, explain some of its applications, and discuss how it may impact the future of humanity.
Artificial Intelligence attempts to provide machines with the ability to process and interpret data, similar to the way the human mind does. Since it is still in its earlier stages of development, most artificially intelligent machines are not exactly what humans would consider smart. Just as calculators can process complex combinations of numbers much faster than the human brain, yet cannot display any signs of sentience, AI systems have their limitations. Further into this blog we will discuss their applications and limitations in more detail, but first we should start with some history.
The Birth Of AI
Born in 1912, mathematician Alan Turing is considered by many to be the father of AI. In 1950, shortly before his death, Turing went down in history by asking the question "can computers think?" Simply asking this question altered the trajectory of human history indefinitely, and the answer to it is still being debated among computer scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers to this day. Turing hypothesized that if both a human and a robot were placed behind a screen and asked questions, a third party viewing the responses to those questions would not be able to distinguish which is the computer, and which is the human. Although Turing's test failed, it has been replicated many times, and is now used as a standard for measuring machine intelligence.
The Applications of AI
Although the most advanced AI systems still can not pass the Turing test, artificial intelligence has come a long way since the 1950s, and is used by millions of regular people everyday. Anyone who has an iPhone should be familiar with Siri. Siri is an example of artificial intelligence. Siri's primary function is to process human voice instructions, and carry out tasks based on the commands she receives. However, Siri is not the only artificially intelligent system we used regularly. Search engines such as google use AI to show relevant search results, and filter irrelevant search results. You even use AI when you're texting, using spell checks, and word recommendations—these are all forms of artificial intelligence.
The Future of AI
One of the main topics discussed in digital transformation consulting is the impact AI will have on the future. Some engineers and scientists such as Stephen Hawking believe that artificial intelligence could last longer than the human species itself. It is also believed that by creating this form of intelligence we are creating our replacement as a species. Top engineer Elon Musk has given many warnings about AI going as far as to say "AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization." While this is believed by some, it is more widely believed that AI will become one of our most beneficial inventions, and can help move society into a more sustainable existence.
In conclusion, AI is possibly the most talked about thing in technological innovation today. In layman's terms it is the study and application of a computer's ability to process and analyze data. Artificial intelligence is changing the world in many positive ways, although the future of its applications and uses are unclear. It is my hope that after reading this blog you have a better understanding of what AI is, and can start to formulate your own opinion about the significance it holds in society, especially moving forward into the non-foreseeable future.