Gone are the days when AI only existed in Terminator, Iron Man, and other sci-fi movies. Its applications have become a regular feature of today’s world- Alexa, Siri, AdSense, DeepFace, and Google Search just to name a few. Market Intelligence Firm, Tractica, has projected the AI software market to reach a valuation of $126 billion by 2025.
Even though AI is the new vogue of technology, it is just scratching the surface and has so much more to offer humanity. Among other topics, this article will be discussing some of the ways AI can transform the world and take it to the next level of civilization.
Definition of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is a form of intelligence that is designed to think like humans and other animals and copy their actions.
History of Artificial Intelligence
Greek Mythology is where the concept of Artificial Intelligence was first described. Talos was a robot created from Bronze by Hephaestus, the Greek God of Metalworking, for Zeus, the Greek God of Sky and Thunder, who used it to protect his mistress, Princess Europa, from kidnappers. Ancient philosophers contributed to the advent of AI by deducing there was a pattern to human reasoning.
AI became a theme in science fiction novels in 1809 with the release of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. In 1920, the word ‘Robot’ came into existence when it was used by Karel Čapek in his novel R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots).
The characters in these and subsequent sci-fi novels began to attract interest from the science community and soon, scientists were exploring the possibility of bringing AI to reality. In 1939, Mathematicians Alan Turing and Alonzo Church established the Church-Turing Thesis which implied that machines could mimic human logic. By the 1950’s, scientists engaged in talks on how to accomplish Machine Learning.
However, nobody used the phrase Artificial Intelligence until it was invented by John McCarthy. He coined it in a proposal he wrote for the Dartmouth Conference which was held in 1956 and designed to bring scientists together to rub minds on different topics.
The topic of AI sparked a wave of excitement amongst them, and most were keen on supporting the project. The attending scientists got to work and created impressive programs which got people talking. These programs could do things like solve mathematical problems, speak English, and learn tactics for board games like Checkers.
By the 60’s, the U.S Government got involved and funded AI research. The future of AI was looking bright, and a few scientists began to speculate that AI will soon be able to perform every human task. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Prominent personalities criticized the AI movement and successfully convinced the government to invest in other projects in the mid 70’s.
As a result, the growth of the industry was hindered, and people began to lose interest. This period was nicknamed ‘AI winter’ and it lasted until the early 80’s when expert systems gained popularity. Expert systems were among those pre-existing programs that used human reasoning to solve complex problems.
Companies were impressed with this new creation and implemented it into their production processes. In the mid 80’s, the AI industry reached a valuation of over 1 billion dollars and soon after, the US Government resumed funding again. This victory didn’t last, however. The failure of the Lisp Machine, a computer created to run on the Lisp software (an expert system) to perform industrial operations, made the US Government to cease their support again.
To address the problems, it was facing, the AI industry evolved into deep machine learning. This led to the creation of algorithms that were modelled after the human brain (Neural Networks) and genes (Genetic algorithms). These sets of programs were more accurate and solved more problems than the former. Between the 90’s and 2000’s the success of the AI industry was restored. This ushered in the era of Faster, High-Storage Computers. The industry continues to broaden its horizons to this day.
Companies that make use of Artificial Intelligence Software
Amazon is the most successful e-commerce platform in the world hence it’s not surprising to see it jumping on the AI trend. Artificial Intelligence has become a crucial part of its operations with the use of its customized Virtual Assistant, Alexa. It facilitates the process of joining conference calls, booking meeting rooms in hotels, and making quick and efficient deliveries to customers. That’s not even the exciting part. Amazon has an algorithm that analyzes the spending pattern of customers and based on that pattern, suggests products that suit the customers’ taste. Before the customers even consider making orders for those products, they would already be in the warehouse, waiting to be delivered.
You can’t mention AI and not put Google in the same sentence. Being the most powerful and innovative company in the world, there’s almost no service Google offers which doesn’t involve AI. Some of its AI software are Google Auto ML Vision (for Image Recognition), Google Voice Assistant (for Android devices) and MUM (used for Google search engine) but Google didn’t stop there. It went ahead to develop a free, public library software called TensorFlow which enables its users to create AI software. It’s safe to say Google owns AI.
AI is used by Netflix to suggest new movie content for each of its subscribers. This suggestion is simply based on the user details which contain the movie preferences of the customers. It is also based on the movies watched by those who share a similar taste to the user. It employs the AVA software to generate thumbnails of its movies. Streaming movies on Netflix is highly optimized thanks to AI.
In order to deliver High Quality User Experience to the 3 billion people on the platform, Facebook has also embraced the AI culture. It hired engineers to build DeepText, a software with a good grasp of the contextual meaning of every typed post on Facebook and DeepFace, an AI with facial recognition skills. About 3 years ago, Facebook launched another AI product that removes any revenge porn content that is uploaded on the platform.
Ways that Artificial Intelligence will benefit the world
The AI subject matter is so broad, it would take more than one article to cover it. However, some of the most crucial human infrastructure that are set to reach new heights with the use of AI are stated below.
Ender’s Game and Robocop are a some of those movies where AI meets medicine. Although the use of AI is overrated in those movies, some of the ideas behind them are slowly coming to reality.
The first area where AI could make an impact in medicine is in Diagnoses of diseases. By going through the patient’s medical report and comparing it with standard sources of medical information, AI can quickly and authentically determine the nature of the illness. Trained professionals won’t even be needed to supervise it. This development will ensure that as many patients are attended to as quickly as possible.
AI can also examine the body tissues of a sick person and a healthy person. It would monitor the disease progression in the sick individual and look for the chemical compounds that are preventing that illness from occurring in the healthy person. Once that is done, it would then suggest a chemical formula that can be used to make drugs to cure the illness.
Not only will this development speed up and cut the costs of drug making, but it would also save lives and reduce the mortality rate of humans. It could even lead to an increase in the human life expectancy.
Artificial Intelligence has the capacity to examine a bulk load of data. Bringing that to the Engineering sector means it can go through the details of various projects and explain the requirements to the engineers concerned. This will enable them to work together and organize themselves thus saving time and energy.
It could also hasten the production process and take some pressure off the engineers’ backs by converting some manual tasks to automated ones. Not only will this cut some of the company’s labor costs, it would also deliver a higher quality of work.
Speaking of higher quality, AI can help material scientists discover and create better raw materials which engineers can utilize for their production processes.
In an age where everyone and everything is going digital, there is the need to protect people’s information. It is even becoming more glaring now. According to the 2021 Data Breach Report published by the Identity Theft Resource Center, 1862 data breaches occurred making it the worst year in the history of data breaches.
AI will help companies to identify and eliminate malware and to develop firewalls that will ward off incoming hackers. With the aid of Machine Learning, these firewalls will be able to adapt to hacking threats as they come and nullify them. There’s a catch to this however, people’s information will be in the hands of these software thus putting humanity at the mercy of robots.
AI’s Machine Learning will help companies make better business decisions by suggesting data-backed solutions. These solutions cover every aspect of the company including the business logo to the advert campaigns, marketing strategy, recruiting of workers etc.
Having access to old data, AI will be able to make analysis and accurately predict which products will be in high demand in the future. The company can use this intel to optimize its manufacturing and storage processes and build an upgraded supply chain.
Another part of the package is the Predictive Maintenance Feature. Business owners usually have a schedule for servicing their machines. During this period (downtime), production is halted, and money is spent for maintenance. By using algorithms to predict the next part of a machine that will become faulty, AI will keep the downtime at a bare minimum and cut costs of maintenance. Production rate will also increase which indicates more sales and more profits to the business.
Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence
As much as we love to talk about the benefits of AI to our society, there is still needed to address the dark sides to it.
There’s this widespread fear people have that in the future, every company will sack their human staff and replace them with robots. You might want to step away from the noise and do some analysis of your own.
To start with, yes, robots are going to take over a lot of jobs in the future. So, what becomes of most of the human race? Do they just stay unemployed until we die of hunger and starvation? Of course not.
Some sources have predicted that for each job taken over by AI, more jobs will be created in return. The World Economic Forum estimates that 85 million jobs will be lost to AI while 97 million jobs will be created by 2025. There’s no saying for sure whether this prediction will come to pass or not so the best way to escape this uncertainty is to equip oneself with 21st century skills.
The Black Box
Even though AI was designed to think like humans, nobody knows how that software arrive at their results. All we see are the input of questions and an output of answers. This situation is known as the Black box.
Most of the time, these results are correct and occasionally, errors come up. It is very difficult to fix those errors if we don’t understand the working mechanism. The worst part is these errors can have real life consequences. A wrong medical diagnosis can lead to a wrong drug prescription which might cause complications or in extreme cases, the death of the patient. People will be less likely to use AI products in this scenario.
But not to worry, scientists have been able to fix this problem by creating transparency systems which lets AI owners know how those machines achieved their results. The only issue is that Companies are backed by law to not reveal their Transparency systems to the public. We can only hope that the AI products created by these companies are thoroughly tested and trusted.