Artificial Intelligence: The New Big Thing

What is it about AI?

In an open invitation to technology taking over the world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the topic of discussion for most. The level of importance of AI is clear from the fact that the White House Office of Science and Technology recently announced workshops to discuss the pros and cons of AI. Tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple have already started acquiring and investing in artificial intelligence. While the debate has been initiated on the relevance of AI, it is significant to understand what exactly Artificial Intelligence means.

AI is the area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence. To simplify things, computers get the ability to handle tasks from writing stories to performing surgeries. Artificial intelligence is about mimicking some aspects of intelligence. This field of computer science was founded in 1956.

In the field of AI, there are two main camps – the Neats and the Scruffies. The neats are followers of formal methods which include applied statistics. There programmes are well organised and based on concrete theories. On the other hand, the scruffies have a messy approach and consider themselves as hackers. However, both approaches have yielded remarkable results.

Why is AI on the rise?

At the start of the year, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, mentioned that he wants to build a simple AI in the year 2016. Something as simple as the Jarvis from Ironman.

“Some people claim this is just a matter of getting more computing power — and that as Moore’s Law continues and computing becomes cheaper, we’ll naturally have AIs that surpass human intelligence. This is incorrect. We fundamentally do not understand how general learning works,” said Zuckerberg in one of his Facebook posts.

Tesla and Space X that are noted artificial intelligence critics are investing big time to support start-ups that are getting research done in AI. Most of the major tech firms are greatly investing in developing their own artificial intelligence engines, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple. AI is already being used in technology today, including Musk’s Teslas and Facebook’s photo tools.

These huge investments are coming in due to the number of pros that Artificial Intelligence provides. The ability of intelligent robots exploring space, digging up mines, exploring the depths of the ocean etc. are attracting investors across the globe. In addition, fraud detection in smart card – based systems is possible with the use of AI. AI can do wonders in the field of healthcare as well. Algorithms can help doctors assess patients and their health concerns. Surgery simulators use machine intelligence in training medical professionals.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder feels that an AI revolution will be positive if we manage it well. However, he does mention that the super intelligent systems might get strong enough to be a matter of concern. Stephen Hawking too senses that AI could be both miraculous and catastrophic. He calls it the biggest event in human history, helping clear out war, poverty, diseases.  He also cautions that it has the potential of developing weapons that humans won’t be able to understand.

Challenges and Issues with AI

In a recently published report by The White House, it has been measured whether we are ready for an increasingly automated world or not. The instant concern is the delicate decision being made by poorly coded or designed, algorithms that can bring about a radical alteration to our lives. Questions of transparency arise when companies, institutions, and organisations use algorithmic systems and automated processes to inform decisions that affect our lives, such as whether or not we qualify for credit or employment opportunities, or which financial, employment and housing advertisements we see mentions the report.

Yes, AI is an extremely useful field of science but the policymakers need to strike a balance between the pros and the cons of Artificial Intelligence. Deploying an ethical framework for designing AI that is both intelligent and accurate to operate without human assistance is essential to ensure that this technology doesn’t prove to be disastrous for mankind.