Artificial Intelligence is everywhere at the moment and has a huge effect on your life, whether you’re aware of it or not. AI allows us to search through the photos on our smartphones, it powers self driving cars, diagnoses diseases, powers chatbots and personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Google Now. It is even used to detect fraudulent credit card payments. The list goes on and on and its influence is only going to grow in the coming years. However, there are some surprising things about AI that you probably didn't know, here they are.
1. AI Goes Way Back To The Ancient Greeks
Even though most of us think of robots that can speak and reason like humans when AI is mentioned, the idea of a man like machine can trace is roots back as far as the ancient Greeks. According to History Extra, Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans) was the blacksmith of Olympus who created lifelike metal automatons.
2. Alan Turing Had A Major Influence On AI
Alan Turing published a paper in the 1950's which focused exclusively on machine intelligence. In the paper, he posed the question, 'Can machines think?". In the paper, he proposed a test called the "Imitation Game", which was inspired from a party game where a computer had to work out the gender of two players. The paper also introduced the Turing Test which is still used to this day as computers attempt to fool human judges into thinking they are also human.
3. AI Research Formally Began In The 1950's
Although research into artificial intelligence began before this date, it was formalized as an academic research topic at The Dartmouth Conference in 1956. Many of those who attended the conference became leaders in the field for a number of decades.
4. AI Must Learn To Understand Our Languages
One of the main goals in AI is to get computers to process and understand our natural languages. There is a research topic for this which is called Natural Language Processing or NLP. What this means is that computers must be able to understand human languages such as English, Spanish, German etc and understand what exactly is being communicated. Computers must also learn to talk and generate its own speech.
5. Driverless Cars Won't Work Without AI
Driverless cars are beginning to transform how we get from A to B. They are certainly one of the biggest technological achievements of the 21st century and would not be possible without the progress made in Artificial Intelligence.
6. Investors Are Investing Heavily In AI Startups
AI is a hot market at the moment for startups and it shows no signs of slowing down. So far there has been $5.4 billion invested in AI start-ups according to Fool.com. Companies to look out for include robotics company Autonomous, team productivity software maker Crux and AI social news aggregator Zero Slant.
7. AI is powered by GPUs, not CPUs
GPUs generate the graphics for your games consoles but they are also known for their amazing number crunching capabilities. AI applications are trained using large amounts of data rather than being explicitly programmed like traditional computer programs. The time taken to complete this training phase is significantly reduced by using GPUs because they are able to quickly perform many calculations in parallel, which CPUs can't match. Many of the big players in AI such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM use high-end GPUs like Nvidia's Tesla chips for AI applications instead of traditional CPUs.
8. AI Could One Day Give Us Minority Style Predictive Policing
Police departments currently analyse data to spot crime tends but in the future, AI applications could take that a step further by analysting crime statistics in real time. Computers could also act as digital police offers whereby they could recommend where and when to deploy officers.
9. AI Could Make A Visiting A Doctor A Thing Of The Past
Visits to the doctor have not changed at all in recent years. You visit the doctor, explain your symptoms and you are given a physical exam. AI could change this by allowing patients to describe their symptoms which could help doctors to narrow down the causes. Patients could explain their symptoms to the AI application which uses NLP to understand speech. The symptoms could then be compared to a database which could potentially reduce misdiagnoses and speed up doctor’s appointments. Who knows, in the future an app could even diagnose you without having to visit a doctor.
It's clear that artificial intelligence is making a massive impact on our world and is enabling computers to do things and automate things that we never thought was possible for a computer to do. I think AI is definitely making our lives easier, but it is quite specific in the sense that we don't yet have general AI. I think General AI (human level) is a long way off and we still don't know how our own brains work, but I'm sure that eventually we will get there. AI applications still need a lot data and examples of things on which to train on and we still haven't mastered unsupervised learning where computers learn on their own and unassisted. These are just some of things that I think we need to master in order to take AI to the next level. Do you agree? Are you worried about AI taking over the world? Let me know what you think in the comments below.