Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already changing the world. It’s present in many products we use every day and it’s likely to become an even more integral part of our lives in the years to come. But what is AI? How will it affect businesses and consumers over the next ten years? In this article, we look at the next chapter in the exciting story of artificial intelligence.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is, in the most general sense, intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of “intelligent agents”. An intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal. So when we talk about AI, we’re actually talking about complex and iterative algorithms that give machines the ability to learn and beat humans at certain tasks. It doesn’t take a PhD to build an algorithm with enough insight to beat a human master chess player.
What is AI?
A.I. is Artificial Intelligence. Whereas a human brain (or brain computer interface) contains about 10trillions of “neurons” (or connections between neurons), an average supercomputer contains billions of exabytes (which is a 1 followed by 30 zeros). We can think of the brain as being 10**72 billion copies of itself (10**80 trillion = 10*10**72 billion), while 15 trillion files (home HD, for example) contain only 10**63 files. In other words, the human brain isn’t that much larger than an HD set for kicks.
While 15 trillion files are not that much by today’s standards, when the first Windows PC came out (in 1995) they only had 6 megabytes. Even with a faster solid-state drive (which today costs over $100,000!) a first-gen PC would have stored only 400 Megabytes. If we apply those 100-to-15 trillion base-10 calculations to a computer today that has 3.46 petabytes of storage, we’ll have a hard time storing the entire sky.
Our computers are 10,000 times larger than the mere 400 megabytes of one year ago. Just Computing (Library of Congress) So how big is the human brain compared to these trillion-drive hard drives? well many factors impact how much information can be stored in a file. First and foremost, the amount of processing power that is available to the computer. This makes up the “processing power” of the data or “processing power” of the whole data set of all human consciousness.
How will AI affect our lives?
There are two main ways that AI might affect our lives: First, it could replace jobs. If a computer can do what you do better and more cheaply, then you may no longer be needed in the job market. But technology has always created more jobs than it has taken away. We look at “skills” and consider what it would mean if we no longer needed cooks, gardeners, hairstylists, plumbers, and car mechanics. This change won’t happen overnight, but it could evolve over several years. Jobs still exist in every industry, but there are now “new” jobs that only require a machine or robot rather than a human employee.
Second, AI might provide us with new marketing opportunities. AI is artificial intelligence and as such, it can learn to drive towards specific goals on its own. Think about Google’s self-driving car; it learned to drive from its training data. We would need human drivers to guide our cars manually, but as we were no longer needed for this task, people no longer needed to work for a living. However, if a self-driving car currently drives up to a restaurant and backs into a wall, we’d realise this was not actually the fault of the human driver.
The car had learned to drive like a robot, needing no explicit external instruction from a human. Although AI could replace a large number of jobs in the future, it would probably only be a small sliver of jobs compared to the ones it could create from scratch. In technical terms, there are two ways that AI will change marketing. First, it will make existing tasks much easier for us. As technologies develop, they become easier to use and less complex. For example, it now only takes a few seconds to upload a photo to Google My Business and complete a chat with a customer. Don’t we all wish that only took five seconds? There’s a huge opportunity for digital marketers to take advantage of this by creating more effective (and relaxing) content. Second, it will make some tasks much harder for us.
What will the future of AI look like?
Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more a part of our lives. From Siri and Alexa to self-driving cars and robot journalists, it’s clear that AI has a bright future. To understand how AI will continue to evolve, it’s important to understand what AI is today and where it came from. Some of you may not be familiar with the word “artificial,” but for this article, the definition will apply. Artificial Intelligence uses computers to model and to make predictions on everything from flight patterns to facial recognition to mood, from pain perception to the price of a parking spot.
Even if you have no interest in artificial intelligence (and I certainly don’t), it’s important to understand how these technologies work so that we can all prepare for what’s to come. Before we go any further, you’re probably asking yourself what the difference is between AI and machine learning (ML). We think the definition below might shed some clarity on this debate.
When we use the phrase “artificial intelligence,” we typically mean some kind of technology that is capable of doing work better than a human can. More specifically, we’re referring to any system capable of giving more accurate, relevant, or timely information than a human being could. It is the boundary between AI technology and “machine learning” that is often misinterpreted, as AI technology being capable of doing sophisticated tasks isn’t the same thing as ML.
Machine learning involves an algorithm going from data (typically training data) to an output (a model that can predict or teach how to interpret that data differently than the original data). Different businesses that might be affected by AI include personal assistants, digital product managers, and machine learning engineers.
Personal assistants have existed for years, but with the advancement of voice search and conversational UI, personal assistants are becoming an even more important part of a business’ arsenal. This includes things like Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Facebook M, and Amazon Alexa. Google Assistant is a great example of a personal assistant.