AI is the buzz word in today’s tech world. Artificial Intelligence is leaping out of science fiction and into reality. But what is it? And how does it differ from what we think it is in films and books? Web Development Manager, Adam Leone examines...

Whereas film directors like James Cameron and the like will have us believe that artificial intelligence involves legions of time travelling, Austrian flavoured robots seeking to destroy the human race – the truth of the matter is that we’re nowhere near that point and we’re unlikely to see the day that technology takes over humanity. (Personally, I’m more worried more about some of the people in power than a bunch of robots).

The reason being is that Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have recently formed a partnership that evolves around Artificial Intelligence and its benefit to people and society. This organisation is called the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society – a super catchy title if I say so myself! Their aim is to set the principals on what AI is and what it should be used for as the industry develops.

"With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon."- Elon Musk

What is AI?

To answer this question as simply as possible, it’s best to understand the principals of a normal computer, which work like this…

  1. Input – We input some data in the form of symbols, numbers, equations…etc.
  2. Processing – The computer manipulates the inputted data based on a set of algorithms. An algorithm is a set of rules that we the human has set that are then followed
  3. Output – the result of the above symbols and processed rules on a screen, piece of paper, server or hard drive

With AI however…

  1. Input – input consists of sight (symbols, objects), sound (language, music, noises), touch (temperature, texture, pressure), smell (odours, minute particles) or taste (chemicals, sweet, sour, ingredients)
  2. Processing – The computer uses the input and uses pattern matching, logic, problem solving and knowledge representation (the key ingredient) to determine the output
  3. Output – The computer will react based on the above. The reaction could be anything from printing something on a screen to launching a series of nuclear warheads…

Why does AI matter?

AI matters because it’s a completely new technology and will form a whole new industry. With all new technologies and industries, it will either complement or disrupt the world in which we live. This is assuming that AI will explode into the mainstream.

According to Stephen Hawking, humanity is hindered by evolution, which is a slow process taking place over the course of thousands of years, compared to the growth in processing power outlined in Moors Law.

AI machines could soon replace jobs and history tells us that unemployment is a by product of all technological advances. Elon Musk has described the birth of AI as “summoning the demon” which in its self is a very telling indictment. Essentially what he means is, we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

Alternatively, if artificial intelligence is in fact, artificial (fake intelligence) based on what we, the human race, tell it – does this mean that AI will lack the ability to innovate? In which case, the moveable definition of what a robot is will become no more than a convenience item for every home. Wouldn’t it be great if all of the things that take up time in our lives (like cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing…etc) could be done by a machine, based on a lifestyles.

What do I think?

I’ve only done some light research for the purposes of this article and it’s safe to say that there’s swathes of documentation on AI and it’s potential to the human race, be it good or bad.

I haven’t yet made up my mind on whether AI is something that should be explored or stifled.

If AI does form a new industry, I believe that it should be more regulated than other technologies. We should keep on top of developments in Artificial Intelligence so that it doesn’t lead to the destruction of mankind.

Is that really too much to ask?