From picking our favorite restaurants to predicting weather and correcting global food shortages, artificial intelligence is already augmenting everyday life.
Firmly rooted in the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) has often felt external – something happening out there. In reality, AI is a huge part of our everyday lives. We just don’t recognize it.
Bank alerts of suspected fraudulent charges, smartphone notifications to exercise, Siri or Cortana’s ability to recognize voices – are all examples of AI.
“Artificial intelligence is basically where machines make sense, learn, interface with the external world, without human beings having to specifically program it,” said Nidhi Chappell, director of machine learning at Intel.
AI improves lives in many other areas too. By measuring biometrics in sports, data can help measure how an athlete’s playing time impacts injury likelihood. It helps farmers know when to water crops for optimal yields, lets meteorologists gauge snowmelt. Smart cities use data for power management, healthcare professionals use AI to detect diseases, perform genomic sequencing, and track treatments.
AI is an umbrella term and under it is Machine Learning (ML), is the set of techniques and tools that allow computers to “think” by creating mathematical algorithms based on accumulated data. Also under the umbrella, Deep Learning (DL), a subset of ML, uses neural network models to do thing like image recognition and language processing.
“Think of a child growing up,” said Chappell. That child observes the world, notes how people interact, the rules society follows – without explicitly being told the rules. “That’s the same as artificial intelligence. It’s machines learning on their own without explicit programming.”
Chappell said AI is doing three things: step one is perceiving the world, using data to detect patterns. Step two is recognizing those patterns, and step three is taking an action based on that recognition.
For example, posting a lot of hiking pictures on Facebook. The algorithms notice there are a lot of pictures of you summiting a mountain with a certain person. It recognizes that person and that you like hiking, so it suggests other people or hikes you might like.
“All of this is machine learning,” said Chappell. “Machines are getting smarter, helping us make better decisions and helping us to research faster.”
There’s a heathy level of skepticism about artificial intelligence – fear that machines are taking over. But Chappell said computer’s learning actually helps humanity in many ways.