Understanding Artificial Intelligence


May 23, 2016 | 12:00 am
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Residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are witnessing the new dawn of intelligence, driverless cars released on their streets by Uber, a ride hailing company. The cars are equipped with radar, laser scanners and high-resolution cameras attached to the roof. The company is joining a coalition led by Google and several car makers to help steer the regulations needed to make self-drive cars a reality.

At its tenth annual I/O (Innovation in the Open) conference, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, unveiled new technologies including a Google Assistant that has the ability to relay information and interact in almost same way a human assistant will. In this case you will be interacting with Google. In an interview with Forbes, Pichai explained that Google had to rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning, areas of computer science that are the entire buzz now but that Google has been working on for well over a decade.
One expert calls it the “next generation”. Whatever you chose to call it, artificial intelligence is becoming the rave. To attempt a definition, artificial intelligence (AI) is the branch of computer science that is concerned with making computers behave like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.
Artificial intelligence which has been around since 1956 has become an essential part of technology industry. In most advanced countries, investment in the industry is on the increase. Many firms that are exposed to or are based upon AI are becoming hugely attractive for professional investors. These firms are applying AI even in core consumer services. Google’s voice recognition technology now claims 98 percent accuracy and Facebook’s DeepFace recognizes faces with a 97 percent success rate.  
According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch research, some $2 billion was invested in 322 publicly listed companies exposed to AI-based technologies in 2014. This is projected to double in the next five years.
The evidence of artificial intelligence is already around us. There are already computers that match or exceed human capacities in games like chess (in 1997 a machine called Deep Blue defeated a reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov), Go (Go grandmaster Lee Sedol has lost two straight games to a machine named AlphaGo), stock market trading and so on.
According to New York University research psychologist, Gary Marcus “Virtually everyone who works in AI believes that machines will eventually overtake us. The only real difference between enthusiasts and sceptics is a time frame.”
Artificial intelligence is projected to affect all facets of life and business. In HR processes like hiring, a growing number of companies are relying more on data than human intelligence to make their decisions. Using GPAs or resumes as criteria for hiring hasn’t proved very effective. AI Services such as TalentBin uses social media to find job recruit. AI helps them to assess work skills as well as personality traits like empathy, grit, and prejudice to provide a richer understanding of who the applicant is and whether they will fit.
Recently a group researchers at Waseda University Tokyo developed AI that can intelligently add colour to old black and white photographs by correctly identifying the contents of the image. It is fully automatic and simply makes use of a large database of objects.
As a business, investing in AI has many benefits. The most widely used category of artificial intelligence is cognitive computing. Businesses leverages on cognitive computing to handle complex, ambiguous situations and enable more intelligent interactions with software. These self-learning systems simulate human thought processes through data mining intelligence automation and natural language processing.
Other categories of AI like deep learning are handy for tasks like speech and image recognition. It also offers more benefits like improving accuracy of artificial intelligence approaches, enabling very deep networks, big data handling and intelligent interfaces.
Experts however warn that investors should exercise caution while looking for AI-based firms to invest. At the moment, there are only a few firms and individuals capable of developing machine intelligence. Sometimes what a firm may claim to be AI was actually done with humans.
Also consider the drawback of AI. In terms of hiring for instance, although AI is more efficient than humans in several aspects, its presence in the industry might take the jobs that humans previously fill. Business Insider reports that AI will replace 5 million human jobs by 2020. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimated that 7.1 million jobs may be lost due to redundancy, automation or disintermediation.
Nonetheless, 2.1 million new jobs will be opened to specialized occupations in the field of computing, architecture and engineering.


May 23, 2016 | 12:00 am
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