What is Artificial Intelligence?
“You are a terminator right”….. “Like a machine underneath”, the great John Connor when he asked T 101 who replies, “I am a cybernetic organism, living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.” There are not many people who wouldn’t recognize this dialogue to be from Terminator 2 Judgement Day. The franchise terminator (the first two movies) were movies that people so lovingly embraced for depicting the story of the macho style terminator portrayed by Arnold and the human who leads the resistance to victory (in the first part the human’s mother of course). This movie is not just about the hunt as most of its audience understands, it’s also about the underlying concept of the rise and development of Artificial Intelligence to a staggering extent.
When the computer was first invented it barely could do anything apart from simple calculations that too only with extensive assistance from a human operator. Now the scenario is quite different and unfortunately almost the exact converse, where the human does not do even the simplest calculation by himself and relies on a computational device that our race has developed for extensive assistance.
We live in a world today where computers have the ability to do things which only we humans were capable of doing. A computer today can communicate with other computers, they can process large amounts of information and more importantly they can now make decisions. When I say they can make decisions it does not entail a condition where they can do whatever they want (that would be Skynet) but it refers to a condition where the computer is programmed in such a way so as to respond to stimuli.
For instance, when the computer is wired to do something when the user clicks one button and something else altogether when a different button is pressed, the computer is to understand what input it got (which button was pressed) and what it should do now. Here the machine learned that when a button is pressed something should be done and when another is pressed something else should be done. The machine also works to understand the event and then responds to the event according to what it was and how it understood it. This sounds similar huh? Well it should, because this is exactly how we humans also work by responding to different stimuli differently.
To explain this further, let’s consider one more example. All of us must have noticed the fact that what we search for in Google sooner or later comes displayed as Ads everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. This is also because of the machine learning what we want. Better yet, some of us must have noticed that the friend’s whose posts you always like, comment and generally follow always comes up first on the News Feed in Facebook. Guess what ? These are all instances of what we all know to be Artificial Intelligence, where the machine learns and acts like how an entity with normal intelligence would (of course with programming restrictions). It essentially revolves around perception and action.
Keeping this broad meaning in mind, let’s look at 10 wonderful examples of artificial intelligence in use today.
1. Video Games
Any hardcore gamer will be able to testify to the fact that video games are one of the best manifestations of the modern day AI technology. These games are composed of large environments with multiple characters, items and more which work and function on its own by learning from user created events. For instance, when I pick up a disguise of a plumber in Hitman and I walk past a plumber he automatically starts suspecting me because he has never seen me around before. Similarly when I shoot someone out of a group of 5, the other 4 automatically marks me and shoots at me. These are examples of well defined and developed AIs.
2. Smart Appliances
Something we hear a lot these days is the statement that machines are getting smarter whereas humans are becoming dumber. Today we have smart phones, smart TVs, smart cars all working on AI. These devices are capable of performing commands as and when it is given. For instance when using Speech to Text recognition, the computer primarily tries to learn how your voice is so as to identify it. Then it tries to get a grasp over the pronunciation to understand the words and so on. This is naught but one smart application. In smart phones, for instance you have music identifiers, which listens to songs and then on receiving the input searches a whole database. The application of AI in this field has been revolutionary.
3. Customer Support
Ever accessed those SaaS websites or sites such as Copyleaks etc. If you have and if you have lingered there for a while you must have come across a pop-up asking you what kind of assistance you require. This is AI and not a human chatting with you. Customer Support has now become an important task for AI. It gathers the user’s query and cross references it with the solutions to see if the query fits the solution and if so provides the support. Other queries are forwarded to customer care agents. For instance when you call a telephone operator the initial info on what service you require etc is collected by the AI and the call is forwarded to the relevant person.
4. Security Systems
Back in the age of kings the walls of the fort used to be manned by men, the king’s loyal soldiers who doesn’t even blink. Today we have their counterpart CCTV cameras and other security measures all controlled and coordinated by AI. Today, we have biometric systems for instance that analyses your finger prints or scans your retina and only if it matches will you be allowed access. We have motion detectors programmed to identify motion and raise alarm when activated. These are all AI which is given the understanding of when to act and when not to.
5. Virtual Assistants
We know of Siri for iPhone, Cortana for Windows and Google Now for Android, all of which are AIs who are our virtual assistants. When we say load the latest news they do. To listen to our favourite we just ask them to play it. They are programmed to follow your instructions textual or voice or both and based on inputs performs requisite tasks making them good examples of AI in everyday use.
6. Prediction Services
AIs are nowadays used greatly in prediction services. Let’s take two examples which are cases on point. In the field of Finance we have programs that process tonnes and tonnes of information and tell us how the market is going to perform by making predictions which are often than not accurate. In the field of Medicine also we have AIs working on making such predictions by going through large amounts of research data. These are amazing applications of AIs which prove very beneficial.
As already mentioned above, when you search for something on Google for quite some time you end up getting a lot of related advertisements. This is the work of AI in personalizing advertisements to reach the right audience. The same personalization is what makes News Feed of Facebook behave in the fashion mentioned above. This personalization done by AI is everywhere around us.
8. Online Search
When talking about AI application, one cannot omit probably the most significant one, which is of course Online Search Engines. Online Search Engines are AIs that optimize and arrange data and information for your taking. For instance, when you search for something and instead of choosing any result from the list so displayed and by using another search string, the AI will come to the conclusion that those are not the best results for that search string and optimizes the search by understanding on what you finally relied on. This is but one instance of the search engines AI’s function.
9. Data Security and More
AIs in today’s world plays a very important role in ensuring data security and also in facilitating other services such as Financial services and more. The security of the data we enter or the money in our banks is with the AI which seals it with a password or other security measures. This use of AI in this field goes a long way in preventing frauds and ensuring more security whereby the user or the owner of the data is apprised in real time of what is happening and is also put in a position to control what is happening by a machine which is capable of understanding if something is fishy.
10. Automated Machines
Last but not least we have an application which is terminator like. In fairly developed processing outlets or factories we don’t really have manual laborers for most things but we have machines that are automated and that move things around, work on it, bring things together etc. These machines work on AI which tells them what exactly to do next and when to do it.
Here is a list of cool AI applications in today’s world. These applications like everything around us comes with a price for the benefits it provides and this shall be analysed in the upcoming article on AI which discusses advantages and disadvantages.