What is AI and how can it benefit companies?
Is it really worth the investment?
So what exactly is artificial intelligence (AI)? There is a promise from the wording itself that just like humans, there is an offer of some intelligence, or some kind of thinking in AI. This wouldn’t be necessarily a wrong assumption however, just like Microsoft Excel can process any number of equations to a certain point, so can AI computational programs.
The artificial bit would suggest there is a creation element to this, that someone is simulating or creating a synthetic process of thinking. It’s not far off from the reality of things however, it seems that most AI is about thinking through logic problems and solving only what can be mathematically expressed. Ordinarily this would be a limitation however, we have come to realize through the various sciences, that mathematics and more so physics, underpin the basis of all perceived reality. As a result, everything is subject to a logical process or mathematical equation. And that means it is possible, if we can figure out the mapping of things, that we can create sophisticated intelligence, perhaps not something that rivals the mastery of the human brain just yet, but we can certainly perform some of the brain’s functions artificially.
Infusion of AI technology with robots gives us a simulation human-like experience that have been referred to, by sci-fi enthusiasts, as androids or cyborgs for quite some time. The concept is that there is some machine fusion with animate humans in the case of the later whereas the former android is simply all artificial and programmable. The thing is, both are very much a reality now. The quality of these androids is improving but, in North America, we aren’t seeing many of them being used because this technology is largely available in Asian countries where it is being developed.
Cyborg technologies are now being developed. There are a host of man different kinds of prosthesis that possess capabilities that mimic those of functional humans. Some can outperform the regular human version. In the case of bionic arms or prosthesis, the compressed oil in the piston can carry preset loads that may be more than what a normal arm could handle if the muscle was weak. So will human beings start to opt for cyborg implants? Will people begin to bring androids and robot devices into their homes? Perhaps, however these stray far away from what AI is about.
AI is the basic development of complex algorithms and calculations to determine information and outputs based on what a system learns from inputs. Like humans, AI learns from its surroundings (data) and then adapts, tells a story, predicts, correlates, and so on. Now imagine asking a computer to map out and compare the human genomic structures across various subjects to isolate the causes for cancer growth in particular organs. If we fed the mapped data of 1000 humans into this model, or 100,000 people, or 100 million? How close could we get to solving puzzles in this way? AI is appealing because of the possibilities but the practicalities are still unclear for most businesses.
Omar Murji is a leader in digital innovation for education. He is presently leading online learning and faculty training with various educational institutions globally. Omar is the CEO of West Oak Design, a research and design consultancy based in Toronto, Canada. Contact Omar at firstname.lastname@example.org