Artificial Intelligence: The soaring technologies of the future

Intelligence is the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving. In a more general perspective, intelligence is the ability to perceive information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context. Intelligence is most often studied in humans, but it is now being fed into the machines and that is called as artificial intelligence.

Most of us would have heard the term Artificial Intelligence. It is now getting a lot more people after the introduction of the Virtual personal assistants Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant. So, let us get a much deeper insight about the concept.

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of Computer Science that basically concentrates on the creation of intelligent machines to work and react as if they were humans. Artificial Intelligence is a simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, mostly computers. Some of these processes include learning, reasoning, and self-correction. Artificial Intelligence has now become an essential part of the technological industry and it aims to create intelligent machines. Some of the Artificial Intelligence activities include Speech recognition, Learning, Planning, Problem Solving, Machine Vision etc.

The research associated with Artificial Intelligence is quite specialised and highly technical. Many practical problems throw themselves up into lime-light when it is required to program computers for the traits to be fed inside a machine, some of which include Knowledge, Reasoning, Problem Solving, Perception, Ability to manipulate and move objects. Knowledge Engineering, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Robotics are all an important part of developing AI.

Based on what the machine is designed to work for, Artificial Intelligence could be categorised into two categories:

  • Weak AI: The machines that are trained and designed to work for a specific task are Weak or Narrow AI. These Artificial intelligence programs are designed to focus on a specific task and they have very less ability to find solutions to unknown problems. One example of such an AI is the Virtual Personal Assistant such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.
  • Strong AI: These are sometimes also known as Artificial general Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence systems that are powered with the general human cognitive abilities. The Strong AI can find solutions to unfamiliar task without human intervention.

Artificial Intelligence can also be categorised into four categories based on what functionality each perform.

  • Reactive Machines: The best way to understand this concept is through an example i.e. Deep Blue. Deep Blue is IBM’s chess program that beat Gary Kasparov. It doesn’t have any memory that it could use to store the moves that it already has played. It cannot use past experiences to inform future ones. This AI has a working principle in which it analyses possible moves- its own and the opponents and selects the most strategic move.
  • Limited Memory: This Artificial Intelligence uses experience to inform the future decisions. This is used for decision-making functions in self-driving cars. Observations inform actions happening in not-so-distant future such as car changing lanes. These observations are generally not permanently stored.
  • Theory of Mind: Psychology term refers to the understanding that others have their own beliefs, desires, and intentions that impact decisions they make. This is also a concept that is being put behind the Artificial Intelligence machines, but it does not exist till date.
  • Self-awareness: Some Artificial Intelligence is believed to have some sense of the self, have a bit of conscience that would allow it to be able to understand current state, use information to infer what others are feeling. Such Artificial Intelligence machines are seen in the fiction movies, but they don’t exist yet in the real world.

Artificial Intelligence is being included in standard offerings in the form of AIaaS (Artificial Intelligence as a Service) since the hardware, software, and the staffing costs for AI can be expensive. So, vendors include standard offerings to allow individuals/companies to experiment with AI for various business purposes and sample multiple platforms before making commitments to AI. Some companies that do offer cloud offerings for AI include Amazon AI services, Microsoft Cognitive services and Google AI.

Although AI is highly beneficial to mankind, it raises some sort of ethical questions. Most advanced AI tools are almost as smart as the training data that is being fed to it, which is mostly decided by humans and there could be a chance of biasedness and so this must be closely monitored.

There is a large application of Artificial Intelligence. Some of them might be stated as:

  • In Healthcare: the biggest bets are on improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. Machine Learning is being applied to make better and faster diagnoses than humans. Some AI applications include chatbots, a computer program used online to answer questions and assist customers, to help schedule follow-up appointments or aid patients through billing process and virtual health assistants that provide basic medical feedback.
  • In Business: Robotic process automation is being applied to highly repetitive tasks normally performed by humans. Chatbots have been incorporated into websites to provide immediate service to customers.
  • In finance: AI in finance applications are disrupting institutions. These collect personal data and provide financial advice. Most of the trading on Wall Street is done using software.
  • In education: AI can automate grading creating more time for teachers. They can assess students and adapt to their need and pace.

Artificial Intelligence is not only limited to these applications but there are more out there and more to be discovered.

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