There is no getting away from the fact that artificial intelligence (or “AI” for short) is all around us. The use of AI has become commonplace in today’s modern world and is ever-evolving. So, what is AI? How does it all work? And how does it impact your daily life?
Whether you like to admit it or not, we are all dependent on AI, yet we may not know we are using it!
In-depth: Artificial Intelligence
AI simulates our human intelligence. Many people assume that AI gets processed by computer systems, and they would be correct! Artificial intelligence also gets handled by machines that use computer technology. These range from ticket machines at train stations through to robotics in factories.
The subject of artificial intelligence is a broad one; we can categorise it as follows:
Weak Artificial Intelligence (also known as “Narrow AI”)
It is a type of system designed to carry out one or more specific tasks. Modern smartphones have a weak AI system included as standard, such as Apple’s Siri.
Why is this type of system known as ‘weak’ AI?
In AI terms, it is weak because it gets designed for specific or ‘narrow’ tasks. The Apple Siri virtual assistant is useful for finding answers to particular questions. But, it cannot drive your car for you or take your dog for a walk, for example!
But, if you ask Siri to call one of your contacts or give you a local weather update, it is more than capable of doing so.
Strong Artificial Intelligence (also known as “General AI”)
In contrast to weak AI, a strong AI system mimics human intelligence. It can learn, reason, and problem-solve.
The beauty of strong AI systems is that, when faced with unfamiliar tasks, they can find solutions to them. They have large intellectual capacities that exceed our own. As if that weren’t exciting enough to comprehend, they can process big data at lightning speed!
Why do we want artificial intelligence?
The thing about human beings is that we all seek ways to improve our daily lives. From completing repetitive tasks to solving complex challenges, we want AI to help. Time is an expensive commodity in today’s modern world, and we want to make the best use of ours.
Before the widespread use of AI, we would usually rely on or delegate specific tasks to others. In today’s technological landscape, AI is an efficient way of tackling problems. And, for the most part, it can do so without human intervention or bias.
If we can use AI to make specific processes more efficient, you can be sure we will do so! Of course, we aren’t quite there yet with AI – especially the “strong” version of it. We will likely see strong AI systems being commonplace in the next 100 years.
Examples of Artificial Intelligence in use today
There is still a long way to go before the use of strong AI, and quantum systems are widespread. As you can imagine, there is still a lot of research and development going on in this specialised field.
The good news is that plenty of narrow AI systems that are commonplace today. Here are a few examples, some of which you may not have even realised you use yourself:
Business and manufacturing
- Process automation;
- Sales forecasting;
- Voice to text speech recognition;
- Online customer support.
- Content personalisation;
- Ad targeting;
- Language and locale recognition;
- Social media analysis.
- Transactional AI (product recommendations);
- Smart searches;
- Fraud detection;
- Pattern recognition.
The evolution of quantum computing and strong Artificial Intelligence
When talking about strong AI systems, we tend to think of “quantum computing.” So, what exactly is that, and is it something that is in use today?
Quantum computing leverages quantum mechanical phenomena to read, process, and action data. The computers we use at home and work today store and process data in individual binary “bits” (zeros and ones). With quantum computing, such systems use quantum bits, or “qubits.”
With traditional binary bits, data can only be in one of two states (i.e., on or off, zero or one, yes or no, etc.). Qubits allow for a coherent simultaneous superposition of both states. A layman’s analogy would be the train versus car comparison:
- Trains can only go forward or backward on rails;
- Cars do the same, but they can also steer/change direction at the same time and over any terrain.
Ethical concerns of weak and strong Artificial Intelligence systems
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence has an exciting future. For instance, autonomous driving is now possible thanks to carmakers such as Tesla.
There are supercomputers such as IBM Watson, a question-answering machine. They get used in a variety of fields from healthcare through to law.
The future looks bright for artificial intelligence, but it also raises ethical concerns. As you can imagine, some people may wish to create strong AI systems that do bad things rather than good ones. An example might be a large-scale autonomous weapon that could wipe out an entire nation!
Another ethical concern is bias. AI systems are only as good as the data provided to them. Some skeptics believe that AI systems may bias towards certain groups of people. For strong AI to have an unbiased future, all data must get scrutinised.
Last but not least, there is also the subject of security.
Artificial intelligence has access to a lot of information; some of it is sensitive. The sad truth is that hackers will often find ways to access restricted information. If that data ends up in the wrong hands, the result could end up being catastrophic.
Should we continue to embrace Artificial Intelligence ?
Whether we wish to admit it or not, AI is here to stay. Despite concerns over bias and ethics, AI still has a bright future. We can use it to improve our lives and those of others.
There is still a lot of work to do before we can take advantage of strong AI. In the meantime, we can continue to use existing, narrow AI technologies.
If you would like to know about uses of Artificial Intelligence for your business, please get in touch with us today.