Artificial intelligence is progressing at a rapid rate, from driverless cars to voice-activated devices in your homes – it is no longer just a concept from science fiction books and films.
The future of AI has already surpassed initial estimates, and researchers at the University of Oxford are now predicting that it will be able to write a bestselling book by 2049, and carry out medical surgeries by 2053. Even if we look slightly forward into the future, AI will become a lot more prevalent in our lives; and exceed most human intelligence. Artificial intelligence is already being used in our day-to-day lives, whether we know it or not; and there are endless possibilities as to where it can go in the future as technology advances even further.
The term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is not new; it has been around since 1950 when John McCarthy invented it and spoke about its potential.
“Every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions, and concepts, solve the kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is a type of technology that mimics human intelligence through machines and computer applications. It is able to learn and expand from itself and its actions through algorithmic training and processing. It’s not just a simple program or application; it is an entire science on its own. In simple terms, AI is a discipline that can be used to solve problems, answer questions, and make strategic predictions on whatever it is asked to do. Provided it has been given some initial data to go off, this program will be forever learning and refining its knowledge to give the best possible outcome for the job it’s doing.
An AI system can contain many different components, which it uses to enhance its knowledge and learning capabilities. Whilst there are theoretically endless components to these systems, a couple of commonly used ones are explained below.
A process that uses an assortment of mathematical data and processes to help the AI system learn on its own, without human interaction. Machine learning enables the ability for AI to discover patterns in data, and improve the results that are output from the task it has been given.
An important component of all AI systems, cognitive computing is designed to imitate human interactions. This allows it to mimic how the human brain works. You have most definitely seen aspects of cognitive computing everywhere on the internet. Whenever you need to complete a Google Recaptcha for filling out a form, and need to click on all the images of boats, this is to help the AI system to determine what these items actually look like.
What will the future of AI look like?
The momentum behind AI development is forever building, and we’re starting to see aspects of it more and more in our normal lives. Computers are now able to gather massive amounts of data about our likes, purchases and movements every day. This data is what is used to train new and existing AI systems. Allowing them to learn and adapt even quicker.
The future of Artificial Intelligence is showing no signs of slowing down, and looking at what is available today; the possibilities are near endless when technological advancements are made in years to come.
One of the biggest impacts of AI will come from the transportation sector. As it stands large corporations like Google and Tesla are already in the process of developing a fully autonomous self-driving vehicle that requires no driver supervision. Although these are just in preliminary testing phases at the moment, it’s a huge leap forward to what was available just 5 years ago. The possibilities of self-driving cars being made available for public purchase is huge. Unlike humans; AI drivers will never be looking at that phone, or getting distracted by whoever is sitting next to them – this combined with their reaction time of around 20 milliseconds will make them the safest way to drive.
However cars aren’t the only form of transportation that has made use of AI technology. Driverless trains have been readily available for public use across many countries for years, and although operators may still choose to be present – it is not necessary, and means there will be more room for extra seats to be added. Alongside this, we will also be taking fully autonomous planes to our next holiday destination soon. Most aeroplanes already take advantage of their autopilot feature, but this will become a lot more prevalent and be able to be used for the entire process, from taking off to landing.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to not only revolutionise the healthcare industry, but also fix some of the underlying issues that are plaguing it today. AI systems can be used to provide better care for patients, by personalising their care plan medication based on their illness. It will also be possible for it to predict future illnesses and diseases by using the patients data to look at family history and lifestyle – however this does bring up ethical debates about how this data will be shared and used by these systems. Ultimately though, this will be an incredible feat of technology; that would not only save lives, but also make the practitioners and nurses lives better as well; enabling them to spend more time with patients.
Artificial Intelligence has been around in the film industry for some time (Terminator, Avengers: Age of Ultron, I Robot etc), but what if this wasn’t just a form of science fiction and can actually be used to create the next blockbuster film?
Streaming websites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime use a form of AI to tailor movie recommendations to you. It uses data gathered from your streaming habits to create a list of films that it thinks you’ll enjoy. This is also seen in the music industry from companies like Spotify and Apple Music to create personally catered playlists for you based on your music preferences.
Pros of Artificial Intelligence
The possibilities of AI systems are near endless, and will revolutionise the professional sector in just a few years. The advantages to having these systems integrated into our society are profound, and will ultimately make our lives much safer and easier.
Humans regularly make mistakes, it’s what makes us human. In the technology industry though mistakes could be catastrophic for the company, this is where AI comes into play. Decisions that are made through AI systems are taken from data that has been previously supplied, and so if they’re programmed correctly it would be near impossible for them to make mistakes.
On top of this, the human brain can only reach a certain level of speed and accuracy when analysing information – these systems are not hamstrung by such things and are able to do the same task in a fraction of the time, and with a greater degree of precision.
Lessens Human Risk
Perhaps one of the most important advantages of AI technology is the ability to mitigate the risk to human life, and an AI robot can be developed to overcome many of the risky limitations of humans. Let’s take the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as an example, at the time there were no AI powered robots that could have helped with the cleanup and minimisation of radiation leaks, as such it was left to humans to get close to the core to put out fires and control the spread. AI robots could intervene in any hazardous disaster such as this, and do the job just as good; if not better.
With the right programming and assigned data, AI systems can make decisions much faster than humans, and carry out the appropriate action based on it. Whilst humans factor in both emotional and practicality concerns into their decision, an AI will get straight to the best possible outcome in just a short time. A basic example of this can be seen when playing Chess against the computer – playing on the hardest difficulty level makes it near impossible to win because the AI used to create the game analyses the best possible move to make every time and within a split second.
Learn the basics through ColdFusion's 'What is Artificial Intelligence Exactly?'
Are there any downsides to Artificial Intelligence?
While there are lots of upsides to the technological advancements of artificial intelligence, having such a system be prevalent in our day to day lives is bound to cause issues and raise concerns from people. Outlined below are two main aspects of AI that can cause both global and ethical issues were we to continue with this trajectory of development and research.
One of the major downsides to both AI and machine learning is the huge amount of power that is required to keep them running. The more they advance and learn, the more they demand an increased amount of GPU cores to function efficiently – not only are these not cheap, but each one increases the power consumption that is needed to keep the machine running. Cloud computing is also being used more frequently to tackle this issue; and although it still isn’t a cheap alternative, it is making working on AI technology a lot more accessible to more people.
Access to Data
The main feature to which all machine learning based AI systems are based is having the availability of data and resources that are used to train itself. Data is being constantly collected from billions of people online each day, this brings with it concerns around privacy and security. Let’s take healthcare as an example, if an AI system was used to service 1 million people in that sector and a cyber attack gained access to and stole the data of all 1 million people. Data including information about people’s diseases, health problems and medical history could be accessed and shared with the public.
With AI systems needing this sheer amount of data, there will surely be some cases of leakage, and with major F500 companies already being scrutinised over the unethical use of customer data, we run into the problem of future laws being created to restrict how and what data can actually be gathered and stored by companies.
With the rate that technology is advancing we are close to revolutionising many different sectors with artificial intelligence. Already we have seen a significant push of these systems for these systems in a lot of public sectors, including; finance, health care and transportation. All of these developments are generating both economic and social benefits for everyone.
The systems which are currently being developed, and future ones to come, will have major implications on society; and so we need to better understand how they work so we can then understand the ethical and legal impacts they’re going to have. Artificial Intelligence is going to be revolutionary for the world, and very well may become one of the most influential inventions in history.
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