26th April 2017 • George Kallias
It’s 2017 and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen that Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, and having an impact on (pretty much) everything.
Artificial Intelligence is the here and now; it’s making leaps and bounds throughout the world of tech and beyond. But what exactly is AI and why should we be embracing it?
Defining AI can be pretty tricky and is often heavily disputed.
If we’re speaking via textbook definitions, then we can define AI as the development of computers that can embody and perform the same so-called ‘intelligent’ actions of humans. The ‘artificial’ part is relatively easy to pin down; it’s anything that is not perceived as naturally occurring. The tricky part however, is often the ‘intelligence’ bit and discussions are still ongoing as to what really counts within this.
Of course, you can’t underpin artificial intelligence without bringing machine learning into the equation. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed, these computer programs change when exposed to new data. A great way to see machine learning in action is through your Facebook news feed. Your feed is personalised to you, in accordance to the data set which is picked up in line with your scrolling activities.
The artificial intelligence revolution is definitely making waves. In line with this are the huge acquisitions and innovative releases among some of the world’s tech giants.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Baidu and Amazon are amongst the biggest names in tech to have invested in AI, each acquiring specialist start-ups. Over the past couple of years they’ve open sourced around 2.5million lines of machine learning platform code between them (that’s 650 human years’ worth of code!). I suppose it sounds worth it when they’ve each invested more than $80million in acquisitions…
AI solutions are entering our every day. One of the most common examples of this is the infiltration of smartphone voice assistants. The most recent case of this being Bixby, Samsung’s answer to making device interaction easier.
Many will know Siri and will have come across Google Assistant, Cortana or Alexa in the past, but with more and more tech titans jumping aboard this trend, the competition and therefore the levels of innovation are progressing at a rapid rate.
Currently, we’re heading towards voice assistance infiltrating all parts of our life, as Bixby looks to integrate across a range of platforms, as all parts of our home and lives look to become intelligent.
Whilst we’re on the topic of AI powered voice assistants; of course, Amazon Alexa and Google Home need to be thrown a mention – these are the devices encouraging the first steps towards AI filled homes. Looking to find a new recipe of the directions to your nearest shop? Now you ask Alexa.
Naturally, there’s competition between the capabilities of the two devices as consumers look to find the best investment, but most importantly here, are the possibilities which these forms of AI are providing us with… constant intelligence integrated into our everyday lives.
So, we’ve covered the Siri’s, Alexa’s and Bixby’s of the AI world, but let’s not forget the less-consumer based businesses harnessing the power of AI for some pretty amazing projects.
One great example of this is Benevolent AI – a British company using artificial intelligence to make connections for cures to illnesses that humans simply can’t. Essentially, their aim is to speed up the process of finding a cure to illnesses that currently don’t have one.
So how does it work? AI processes academic literature and data about complex diseases, this data is then used to help researchers come up with a hypothesis about how a particular compound might be caused so that a cure can be found.
With former IBM Watson pioneer Jérôme Pesenti at the helm of Benevolent AI’s technology division, these massive innovations in human health are certainly promising.
This kind of AI implementation must be embraced; innovation within companies such as Benevolent AI can provide us with the positive steps forward towards progression in some of mankind’s most hard-hitting challenges.
There are a number of inspired businesses utilising AI for progression in a similar vein to Benevolent AI, however with every new technological development, there are always a handful of critics.
One well known technologist who has publicly documented his hesitations surrounding AI is Elon Musk. During a well-documented meet up with Google Deepmind’s CEO Demis Hassabis, Musk expressed reservations on the tech movement, explaining that we are at risk of Super-Artificial Intelligence taking control of mankind.
Yes, there are cynics towards AI and its future relationship with the human race. My opinion… let’s embrace it.
Companies are not only using it to make our interaction with technologies smarter and easier, but AI is being used to make a real difference towards a better and more progressive world.
These are my thoughts on Artificial Intelligence, but it would be great to hear yours. Which technological advances are you most excited about? Which Mobile Personal assistant is your favourite? Is there room for cynicism or should we embrace AI? Tweet me @GeorgeKallias.
Some interesting articles referenced throughout this blog and well worth a read: