AI has been around since the late 50’s with the first AI program called “Logic Theory Machine”. Even though AI has been around for many years, I still wonder what it is and how it can help me. Turns out, AI is everywhere and most of us use it every day. However, there is a lot of discussion on what the proper definition of “intelligence” is. For AI, the accepted definition is “intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals”. Basically, like artificial flavors, artificial intelligence is not the real thing. AI is already deeply embedded in our lives. The most common places to find AI in action are map guidance application such as Waze, music selection services such as Pandora, video promotion used in Netflix and YouTube, and weather prediction such as expected hurricane paths. Music has been written with AI, short plays, and internet search engines are also using this technology. AI has become very popular because of its “predictive” analysis of data and almost magical sense of a machine getting to know you personally.
Under the hood, AI is nothing more than statistical analysis of data. AI can only exist where there is lots of data. Unfortunately, there is no super computer in the background that is slowly becoming self-aware. The very basics is that AI takes a bunch of data points, history of actual events, and algorithms to determine if the next point can be grouped or fits an existing pattern. There are many different algorithms that can be used with AI. Some of these are linear regression, linear optimization, decision trees, clustering, neural networks, and support vectoring. The next time someone says, “I’m teaching my machine to (do something)”, know that they are actually saying “I’m logging data so that my algorithm can have meaningful output…hopefully”. The term “artificial intelligence” makes it seems more mythical or sophisticated than it really is. Would it still have the marketing power it has today if it was instead called “real-time data logging and statistical analysis”? Probably not.
AI isn’t scary, dangerous, or very complicated. However, people are recently developing a fear of AI even though it’s been around for a while. Why? Possibly it is because we are now able to collect and store massive amounts of data more easily than we could in the past and we now have the computing power to very quickly calculate meaningful determinations from vast amount of data. Because of this, AI has already become a large part of the decisions we make every day and it happened, what seems, overnight. So the natural fear we have is, how big can this get and do we have it under control? AI does have the potential to become dangerous when we forget to treat it like a tool and instead let replace our own intelligence. AI will play a much bigger role in our lives, we must be intelligent enough to determine how much of a role that will be. We must work along side AI and not let it lead us.