Artificial intelligence can be defined in a variety of ways, depending on who you ask. To many, artificial intelligence, or AI, is a cinematic robot or IBM’s Watson. Webster’s dictionary definition is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers or the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. AI encompasses our daily lives through technology like Siri, Google’s search algorithms, or any smart device. The idea of artificial intelligence began over 70 years ago and was initially slow to develop. At the time, computers lacked the power needed to process data and the memory. The growth with AI development has exploded over the past 25 years, recently due to advances with machine learning and deep learning. Machine learning, or artificial intelligence technology, is defined as the ability to continually learn from data collected to make predictions based on analyzing algorithms. Deep learning, a division of machine learning, utilizes artificial neural networks to process data in layers to detect patterns without having prior information. With technology continuously advancing, what will AI bring to us in the future?
The beginning of artificial intelligence goes back to World War II when Alan Turing, a mathematician, and Grey Walter, a neurologist, exchanged their ideas on intelligent machines. While they created nothing together, they each made their mark in AI history. Alan Turing is responsible for the Turing Test, a benchmark test for a machine’s ability to think like a human, a test still used today. And Grey Walter had built some of the first robots. In the summer of 1956, John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky hosted the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on AI. Minsky’s view of programming a computer with rules won and received funding from the U.S. government. 1968 introduced HAL 9000, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Marvin Minsky, founder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT, consulted and his prediction of machines soon would capable of human intelligence were conveyed in the film. Minsky’s prediction did not hold true and the lack of progress caused federal funding to be cut in the 1970’s. It wasn’t until the eighty’s that AI had any major development. The grandiose ideal of an all knowledgeable computer switched to a more focused base computer. Computer systems were developed for businesses, RI was the first successful system to be used. By the 90’s, neuroscience became influential again due to Rodney Brooks, Minsky’s successor as director at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Unlike Minsky’s top-down approach, Brooks believed in the bottom-up approach and neural networks. Then the world of chess was shaken up by Deep Blue, IBM’s creation that defeated the world chess champion in 1997. The 2000’s has introduced many landmarks in AI history from the Roomba to the Apple iPhone’s speech recognition to IBM’s Watson’s triumphant debut on Jeopardy. The U.S. government also came back into the picture. The military invested in Boston Dynamics’s BigDog, an autonomous robot created to handle terrain vehicles can’t. From here the advancement in technologies exploded.
Artificial intelligence has brought us many benefits. AI has brought greater efficiency to all markets, largely due to capabilities to quickly sort through and analyze data and reduction of errors. It has brought advantages in transportation, finance, retail, and medicine.
The transportation sector has had many improvements. Google Maps can suggest the quickest route based on the data from construction, accidents, and current traffic conditions. In Japan, a cab company is utilizing AI to predict and direct drivers toward the areas with expected high demand. Arriving to this conclusion isn’t simple, data from taxi’s historical pickup and drop-offs, day, time and weather are all analyzed. Drivers have noticed a 20% increase in passengers. AI will enhance transportation even more in the future with driverless cars, autonomous trucks, and efficient traffic lights. These will reduce accidents, travel time, and ultimately cut costs for society.
The banking sector has been utilizing and benefitting from AI advances for decades. AI has given us more convenience and security when it comes to our finances through protection from fraud, mobile banking, and portfolio management. The compilation of your credit score and borrowing terms and insurance rates are also the results of machine learning.
Even how we spend our money has been made easier. From recommendations to searches, the results are from large data sets aimed at your preferences. Retail online will become more personalized for each person, making shopping easier.
Machine learning in healthcare has added improvements with more to develop in time. The immense amounts of medical data to analyze can possibly detect patterns in diseases and suggest multiple treatment options for patients. AI has also improved image diagnostics with computer vision and robotic surgery. The Da Vinci robot allows surgeons to control the robotic arms and operate in delicate situations with steady hands. In China, Baidu, an internet service company, has developed a device to allow the blind to see, the Dulight. The device is worn on the ear and scans the area and relays the information through sound. Another medical tool from AI is an app from Cogito, Companion. This app monitors various cues to report any differences in the tone, how involved you are in a conversation, the vitality of your voice, and your activity level to assess if you’re heading into a depression. The app is hoping to be able to head off a patient’s mental health from elevating any further than necessary.
While artificial intelligence has brought greater efficiency, the other side is job losses. Oxford University completed a study estimating in 20 years, around 50% of jobs could be eliminated. Artificial intelligence has been in the workplace for decades, replacing repetition with automation. And as it advances its capabilities to more white-collar professions, what would become of society with so many unemployed? Unemployment has always been a concern with AI and humans are going to need to redefine what we do as AI replicates us. Another concern with AI is safety. Safety concerns of someone creating an AI to be harmful or as a weapon or taking control over AI. There will be more ways to manipulate the internet and the impact could be detrimental. Privacy concerns will also be an issue. People may grow to distrust the system, creating an element of paranoia.
As we proceed forth, we need to consider safety and ethical measures with artificial intelligence. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates have publicly expressed their concerns with AI. We need to evolve as progress with artificial intelligence does.