AI, or artificial intelligence, is becoming more and more common and accurate. Today, we have systems like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana — and that’s just scratching the surface. We call these platforms “virtual assistants,” and designers created them to make your life much easier. They rely on big data and modern analytics.
You can also fine AI in smart devices like wearables, enterprise and marketing, and even in aviation. The autopilot system on a plane, for instance, is driven by an automated, albeit basic, AI. Autonomous vehicles use computers to predict what’s in the road and other actions the car should take.
Machines grow smarter with every new release. The capabilities expand, they become faster and the storage grows. The things we use mobile devices for today are just the tip of what’s possible.
What Is AI?
So, what is AI, really? The movies would have us believe it’s non-sentient life that has the potential to destroy the human race. That’s a bit extreme, though, especially since it will be some time before AI is so capable. Does that mean such a thing is nigh impossible? Elon Musk sure doesn’t think so, but that’s not what we’re here to focus on.
Artificial intelligence is simply the act of programming computers and devices to make decisions and carry out actions that normally require human intelligence. The system in question is developed to assess and follow a set of protocols based on various triggers. Home automation is a simplistic form of AI, without all the bells and whistles of a supercomputer. The app, IFTTT is a great way to explain how this works. If This, Then That denotes the automation process for setting up a “recipe” or rule.
AI is taking hold in enterprise, too. IBM’s Watson is a cognitive AI system designed to assist businesses and companies with a great many things. Most importantly, it uses machine learning to discover insights, trends and actionable intel based on incoming customer and performance data. Repetitive tasks are often the best place to start with automation.
The point is, these technologies do exist, and people are using them in today’s world for a variety of means. Of course, the more pressing question is how the technology will evolve.
The Future of AI: What Can We Expect?
You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing unorthodox being done with AI. Innovation is happening yes, but it all seems to be in areas or industries where you might expect — for example, AI systems to drive retail fulfillment processes, to improve the accuracy of medical devices and equipment, and even to make predictions about your web searches.
To look to the future, however, you really need to see what amazing things people are using AI for. Technology expands more quickly than we realize. Just a few years ago, the internet of things (IoT) wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. Now, nearly every person has at least one device tapping into the IoT, such as a smart watch or app predicting traffic patterns for their morning commute.
Machine learning and AI intersect to allow devices to gather data, analyze it and present facts for the user. Some of the places we’re seeing the most growth in the coming year include wearables, smart homes and smart cities.
Picture a commute to work where you check your smart watch to see what the weather is and if you need a jacket. You open an app to check commute times. As you enter the city, you’re pinged about events in the area. When you arrive at work, you’re automatically clocked in via a smart work badge. These things become more commonplace with time, until we don’t realize how much IoT has changed our lives and the way we do business.
We’re already living in a world where computers run much of our daily tasks without us even realizing it. If someone from 1950 were to suddenly land in 2023, they wouldn’t even recognize the world. From pocket-size computers that also serve as phones to automated everything, they wouldn’t know how to use any of it.
AI Can Predict Fertility
Technology is even tackling the realm of fertility these days. Women and couples are using mobile apps and software and even uniquely designed devices to keep track of ovulation and plan a pregnancy.
For many years, couples who had trouble getting pregnant had to rely on a handful of options. Today, with the help of AI, they can find the best method to help their infertility issues. People can even use an app to connect with potential birth moms if adoption becomes the best option.
An Android and iOS fertility app named My Days deployed a unique service, powered by AI startup Neura. The system learned a user’s daily habits and information, and then it would send alerts based on predictive analytics. Not only would these alerts offer personalized information, but they deliver alerts at opportune times during a user’s schedule. For example, it might prompt a woman to take her temperature on a lunch break at work.
The system was so successful that usage of the app grew shortly after the service was deployed. Taking a cue from this story, we can see new ways in which we can use modern AI to improve our lives. In this case, individuals used it to predict fertility and improve the baby-making process, for lack of a better phrase. In some instances, AI helped fulfill people’s dreams of becoming parents. Although AI technology isn’t perfect, it’s a lifeline to those it does help.
People can also use it to improve diets and exercise regimens, optimize or become more productive with a schedule and much more. The system in question can connect to a data source, acquire information and spit out the kind of insights and predictive data that helps users make a more informed decision.
AI can even update doctors on health reports, remind couples of appointments and track attempts to get pregnant to rule out the things that don’t work and focus on those that do.
Entertainment and Satisfaction
Believe it or not, Netflix employs modern AI systems to deliver accurate content suggestions to its customer base. Users react to various movies and shows, by adding them to favorites, providing personal ratings and more. The AI system takes this into account and applies it to existing content offered via the platform to deliver targeted, accurate suggestions.
Have you ever been watching a show and Netflix asks if you’re still viewing it? You’ve just experienced a prompt from their computer system. When the system suggests more titles like the one you just viewed, you also tapped into the power of AI. The system can even look at which shows you rated highest and make suggestions based on past viewing.
Amazon does the same exact thing in retail. The retail giant offers targeted product and service suggestions based on a user’s browsing history, past purchases and more. When there is a sale, Amazon informs those who might be interested in the product. They will even send you notices when an author you follow releases a new title.
This technology — thanks to big data and predictive analytics — is growing smarter by the day. Sure, Netflix is using it, but individuals can apply this feature to many services and brands in a wide variety of industries. Pandora and Spotify — music streaming services — use the same technology to deliver targeted content suggestions as well.
Alexa, the AI system behind Amazon’s Echo platform, also makes product suggestions to customers. She can even auto add items to a shopping cart based on a user’s preferences and history. Run out of paper towels, for instance, and Alexa will order more and have them shipped right to you within days.
This shows exactly where modern AI is headed in the near future. Expect to see many brands and services leveraging AI over the coming year. We’re sure to see some more innovative and more convenient solutions as companies work to improve the customer experience. A smart fridge combined with predictive AI allows your smart home to order groceries for you based on what you eat most and what you need.
Improving the Accuracy of Diagnostics
Medical treatments are largely at the whim of doctors and medical professionals, at least when it comes to deciding what should be used. Patients will often share their ailments and symptoms, to which a professional will deliver a potential diagnosis. This leads to further testing or monitoring, before finally moving to treatment. Sometimes the process is relatively simple and quick — and others, not so much.
Furthermore, doctors are not infallible, which means they can and do make improper diagnoses at times. Luckily, AI-based medical systems can be used to improve the accuracy of these predictions and identify problems faster.
Companies specializing in deep-machine-learning are turning to AI to help them predict people’s health., Medical imaging centers are being outfitted with the kind of AI and deep-learning technologies that can make a variety of diagnoses for patients. Once up and running, the system in question can analyze MRI’s, CT scans, ultrasounds, X-rays and even nuclear medicine scans. The computer can predict cancer and radiologist will use AI as another tool in their arsenal to keep people healthy.
We don’t need to tell you how much this will impact the medical and health industry. We could see a long-lasting relationship between modern medical professionals and predictive AI systems that work to improve our quality of life.
For people with ongoing health issues, such as Type I or Type II diabetics, wearing a smart device hooked to an AI insulin pump could save lives. Not only is insulin delivered in the right dosage but the system sends reports to a central computer database and then spits out suggestions or gives your doctor access to your averages so you can tweak diet, exercise and medication.
Automating Your Business
The rapid changes in AI technology impact all types of business models. As companies automate different aspects of their day-to-day operations, expect workers to find ways of adding more creative endeavors into the mix. We can see this trend in fast-food restaurants already, where people can order on a screen, freeing up workers to better greet and engage with customers.
The process starts by redefining roles in your organization and figuring out what tasks computers can do quicker or better and what tasks humans are better off handling. Look to areas in your company that are prone to error. Machines are much better equipped to handle things such as mathematical configurations without making costly mistakes.
On the other hand, in one-on-one interactions such as onboarding new clients, a human touch is almost always the better choice. Artificial intelligence can undoubtedly gather and analyze fundamentals information, but the time savings of other operations using automation allows your employees to home in on each client and offer a personalized experience in an increasingly impersonal world.
Will we see computers take over physical tasks as they do in Hollywood? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The next few years will bring increases in hyper-automation, but some tasks still need the human touch. Computers aren’t yet able to complete creative elements in a task. However, with advances in computer intelligence, the day might not be far off where they do.
Already, bots create content for some sites and automate social media posts for brands. Machines just aren’t quite to the point where they get the many intricacies of human language and thought patterns, so the result may sound stilted and awkward.
One thing many professional writers and editors notice is that machines don’t quite have a grasp of human language. They sometimes place words out of order and spit out stilted language. Where AI is most helpful in things such as content creation is in double-checking for errors. Sites such as Grammarly already utilize AI to predict what the writer wanted to say or rework a phrase so it sounds less awkward.
However, the technology still has a long way to go. Anyone who has ever used Grammarly can tell you that some of the suggested changes are downright silly. Creative content still requires the human brain–that may change at some point as machine learning increases.
AI has many applications in the cybersecurity field. The number of hackers continues growing as more people get online. Businesses have a responsibility to protect sensitive data and prevent breaches. However, there are only so many hours in the day. Hiring an online security team to watch your databases 24/7 is costly. Enter AI, which can flag potential issues and even shut a hacking attempt down.
AI improves big data management by automating tasks and ensuring software is up-to-date, a big risk factor for hacker entry. Experts predict businesses will ramp up AI and ML to $38.2 billion by 2026.
Combining data analysis and automation, computers can assess risks and detect malware and threats before they turn into problems. Use computers to organize data sets and automatically scan the system for anything out of place. Your security system can scan through massive data on autopilot, alerting you to threats so you can fix them in real-time.
Teaching Computers to Learn for Themselves
Expect 2023 and beyond to be a time when computers begin learning for themselves more and more. Although computer scientists have made impressive advances in this area in recent years, there are still some hiccups in AI. For example, teaching a computer how to feel emotion seems nearly impossible. Machines can guess at and mimic emotions, but they can’t yet experience sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, etc.
In the early days of computers, their knowledge remained limited to the information programmers fed them. Today, though, programmers use a method called reinforcement learning so computers can categorize on their own. Researchers are also working on allowing for supervisors and other computers to check in with that central hub.
Researchers are hard at work on an AI system that does not require supervision. The final stepping stone is figuring out how to get computers to give themselves feedback. Researchers have already taught a computer to solve a maze through reasoning similar to how the human mind reasons. The possibilities for machine learning are limitless as programmers try new methods and find ways to advance in the field.
Creating Transparency in AI
With the concerns over foreign governments potentially hacking into election systems and obtaining high-level government secrets, the idea of AI is a bit scary. Although there are many positives to advances in this technology, there is also some concern over how criminals might abuse the technology.
There is an increasing push this year to create more transparency about what’s going on with AI and how we might use it to solve problems. Technology is playing a role in areas we never thought of before, so it’s vital for people to trust the technology with their information. People also are a bit distrustful of letting machines control too much of their lives, although there’s a valid argument to make that technology, in the form of smartphones, already controls us.
Because companies developing the technology also fear future legal ramifications, expect more transparency in the future. The General Data Protection Regulation is one step toward protecting personal information and forcing companies to remain transparent about how they use data.
From medicine to retail and everywhere in between, AI is present. Only time will tell how this will all play out in 2023 and beyond, but for now, AI is doing its best to make our lives easier.
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