What is “artificial intelligence”? Since the very beginnings of computerization, the concept of artificial intelligence has captured the imaginations of science fiction writers and movie makers. Today, fantasy is already reality, and artificial intelligence, or AI, is implemented in a wide range of everyday applications and devices. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, and as devices get smarter, we will see more and more AI-based technologies throughout our lives.
AI is being used in myriad ways that you may not even realize. If you have ever done “self check-in” before a flight, asked Siri a question, or clicked on an ad on the internet, there’s a good chance that AI was part of the process.
Let’s explore three ways that artificial intelligence is not just the stuff of fantasy, but actually impacting the reality of your day to day life:
Leaving on a jet plane? It’s done with the help of artificial intelligence. Most of us board our flights without giving much thought to the technology that keeps us safe in the air. But actually, AI is starting to be used in both civilian and military aviation.
In the military setting, artificial intelligence is implemented in flight simulators for pilot training. AI technology gathers data accumulated in flight simulations and uses it to develop best case strategies and scenarios in dangerous situations. There is also research underway in the UK to develop an AI-based autopilot system that can learn to behave like a human pilot in emergency conditions, like turbulence or system failure.
But it’s not just flying the plane – it’s the whole experience of air travel that is being affected by AI. Automated ticketing and check-in systems, passenger identification, and self-check-in for baggage using facial recognition are just some of the ways that airports and airlines are using AI to make air travel faster, safer and more cost efficient.
Next time you make a request to Alexa or Siri, you should know that this information is being processed by artificial intelligence to “teach” the device to serve you better in the future. Also, when you use automated chat features, or “chatbots”, these too are using AI to learn and categorize the rhythms, patterns and associations necessary to mimic human communication.
In essence, every interaction you have with artificial intelligence-driven devices contributes to its learning and improvement. When you ask Google Assistant the weather, it may seem like a robotic wonder out of a science fiction novel. But actually the response comes from what’s known as “machine learning”. Machine learning is when a computerized device identifies patterns in data input. The more data processed, the more learning the computer can do. Artificial intelligence devices become more sophisticated and accurate over time. As you interact more and more with your digital assistant, it gets to know your voice, behavior and speech patterns even better, so it can provide you with better responses every time.
We no longer live in a world of just billboards and TV ads. Advertising on the internet is a different beast altogether. Everything you do online is tracked and monitored (with your permission), and that data is used to serve you with ads that match your interests and preferences. Different people will see different ads online, because they have built up different user profiles.
Artificial intelligence is making that process much more efficient and precise. How? Online marketers are continually A/B testing their ads to see what works better. So they will run two versions of the same ad simultaneously but with small differences, such as a different image or headline, to see which version performs best. Running A/B tests is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. But with AI, marketers can run much more sophisticated testing in real time. Rather than just comparing two versions of an ad (A & B), they can test multiple variations (A, B, C, D, E & F) at once, arriving much faster at the ideal ad, and personalizing the process for each individual internet user.
For many industries, including health care, financial trading and autonomous cars, artificial intelligence is making serious inroads into more sophisticated systems that can take human progress into uncharted territory. The diamond industry is also in the process of dramatic change, with AI-based technologies that can grade diamonds with more consistency and repeatability that can be done by human skill alone.
There is no end to the potential impact that artificial intelligence will have on our lives. How will an AI-driven world look 100 years from now? Only the best science fiction minds can tell us.