What is Artificial Intelligence?


AI: Empowering minds, transforming industries and shaping our world. Photo via: Alexandra_Koch, Pixabay under the Creative Commons License.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a growing prevalent topic in day-to-day life.

 AI is defined as a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. Simply put, AI is machine learning, software that learns through examples. 

The heart of all AI is software. Machines themselves are not intelligent. Instead, they are controlled by the software created for the machine , where the AI resides. A machine is said to possess Artificial Intelligence capabilities if it can interpret data and learn from the data and use that to achieve specific goals, like the ability to move and manipulate objects.

Machine Learning

Under AI is a subset called machine learning (ML). Using statistics and probability theory, ML allows computers to learn from data and experience to improve performance on tasks or decision-making processes. ML uses algorithms categorized as supervised and unsupervised to analyze data, learn from it and make determinations without explicit programming; supervised algorithms can apply what has already been learned to new datasets while unsupervised algorithms can draw inferences from datasets. ML algorithms are designed to strive to establish linear and nonlinear relationships in a given set of data.

Deep Learning

Deep learning is another subset of machine learning that delivers state-of-the-art accuracy in object detection, speech recognition and language translation. Deep learning is a crucial piece of technology powering driverless cars and enables the machine to analyze large amounts of complex data.

Rise in Chatbots

A chatbot is a computer program that utilizes AI, specifically ML, and natural language processing (NLP) to understand given questions and automate responses, such as a human conversation. AI chatbots are capable of answering common questions, coding and completing assignments

Growing more popular in recent years, chatbots are found almost everywhere today. Why? With technological advancements, communication is easier. We can now communicate with people from across the world. Companies benefit from this especially, as they can directly reach and engage with people like never before. AI chatbots like Chat-GPT and Snapchat AI’s versatility, intelligence and accessibility are what have made them so popular. 

Is AI Ethical?

AI can be unethical because humans make it unethical. But is it really unethical when it is just doing what it was taught? AI presents three major areas of ethical concern for society: privacy and surveillance, bias and discrimination and the role of human judgment. What does that all mean? 

Privacy and Surveillance

Major privacy breaches in recent years have made shocking headlines in the news. AI technologies have the potential to enhance security, prevent crime and protect individuals from harm. But the collection and analysis of vast amounts of personal data through AI algorithms raise questions about consent, transparency and the potential for discriminatory practices.

Bias and Discrimination 

AI algorithms learn from vast amounts of data, including historical and societal biases present in the training data, resulting in algorithmic biases that perpetuate discriminatory outcomes. Giving AI the potential to replicate, reinforce and/or amplify harmful biases. For instance, AI-powered hiring tools may inadvertently favor certain demographic groups, leading to unequal opportunities. It is crucial to develop AI systems that are transparent, accountable, and inclusive, while actively promoting diversity and ethical considerations throughout the entire development process. 

The Role of Human Judgment

Human judgment is the ability to judge, make decisions and form opinions both objectively and wisely. Human judgment plays a crucial role in ensuring fairness, accountability, and ethical decision-making within AI systems. While AI algorithms can process vast amounts of data and make predictions or decisions, they lack the contextual understanding and moral reasoning capabilities that humans possess.

AI in the 21st Century

Computers have evolved so quickly and have become such an integral part of our daily lives that it is easy to forget how recent this technology is. Just 10 years ago, no machine could provide language or image recognition at a human level according to “Our World In Data.” Now, AI systems have become steadily more proficient and are now beating humans in tests in language understanding, reading comprehension, speech and image recognition. Today, AI is used across several industries, including healthcare, finance and transportation. In education, AI is used to personalize learning experiences for students. 

AI has become a prevalent topic in film, television and games; depicted as either a harmless and misunderstood invention or a dangerous, powerful machine. Should we really be giving all of this power to a lifeless machine, or if we should continue research to solve our minor inconveniences?

Despite the many benefits of AI, there are concerns about its potential impact on society. Some worry that the technology could lead to job displacement and exacerbate existing social inequalities. Others worry about the ethics of using AI in major decision-making, specifically when it comes to sensitive issues like healthcare and criminal justice.

As AI continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, it will be important for society to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of the technology. With thoughtful planning and regulation, AI has the potential to revolutionize several aspects of life.