What is AI? How is it used? How will it affect businesses going forward? Simply put, Artificial Intelligence (AI), is a type of computer science designed to replicate human/natural intelligence. This is not just a sci-fi construct like the character ‘Data’ from Star Trek, it’s a real thing that exists right now and most of us make use of AI on a regular basis. Common examples of AI would be your home assistants like Windows’ Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s Siri. Although they may not seem like ‘intelligent beings’ these assistants all collect and use your data to help you with appointments, music and many more everyday tasks.
But AI is not just for home use, there are so many ways in which it can be used in business. A brilliant example of AI as many people imagine AI to be – robot form – is CloudMinds’ XR-1. The XR-1 is an assistant used in hospitals in China. The robot is connected via mobile 5G for super-fast access to the internet and interacts by talking, gesturing, dancing, and physically guiding patients through the hospital. This frees up doctors’ and nurses’ time and reduces face to face contact; especially helpful when dealing with a global pandemic.
AIs are designed so they can help you save time with multiple tasks, such as scheduling and note-taking, to help you streamline your business. Unfortunately, there’s no AI that can do everything for you yet, and the reality of this doesn’t seem likely for quite some time. However, getting 10 or 11 different systems that all ‘talk’ to each other is a real possibility for the near future. Imagine how a car is made: many different people/machines work together to build the car, each with a specific job. The AI Team will have a similar sort of idea behind it. Many different AIs, each with their own specialism, will work together to help you and your business run more effectively and efficiently.
However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows! As with most things, AI needs careful management. According to Dr Will Venters, assistant professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics, “They won’t question their work, they hold no ethical compass, they cannot easily explain how they arrived at a decision, and they cannot understand the biases they might be applying”. These issues are likely to cause massive problems if not monitored properly. As with most IT solutions, the acronym GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out) applies heavily to AI. If an assistant is told to do something wrong, it will never realise the error and will continue to produce the same error until told otherwise.
However, these inaccuracies are being identified and work is being done to iron them out by neuroscientist Henry Markram and his team. They are attempting to create a simulation of a human brain inside a supercomputer. Dr Markram and his team have spent years mapping the cells in the neurocortex, the seat of thought and perception. They hope that once enough work is done, artificial intelligence will emerge naturally as the AI begins to develop itself, much like humans and animals do in early life. So, the future picture is clear: we are already a technology reliant society, and it is certain that AI will play an increasingly large part in all of our lives as the technology improves.
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