Have you ever wondered about the technology behind Google Now? How it brings out useful information just from the prompting of your voice? It is borderline scary the way technology is taking over our daily lives- some apps like Siri and Cortana can act as our Personal Assistants and remind us to call when we forget, tell us the nearest restaurant in our location or even schedule a meeting just by we speaking! How convenient.
Since the beginning of modern day computing, scientists have been striving to develop machines that can think as humans, with the aim of making human thoughts and decision-making a mechanical process. Thus, algorithms and networks have grown to form the foundation for what is called Artificial Intelligence.
Basically, Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to any technology that is designed to imitate how humans operate. A more accurate definition is: AI refers to computer systems that undertake tasks usually thought to require human cognitive processes and decision-making capabilities. (ref). Software that make use of AI technology try to make the user experience resemble interacting with humans as much as possible.
AI is a wide body made up of three parts: Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL) and Neural Networks (NN). Neural networks are processing devices (algorithms or actual hardware) that are loosely fashioned after the neuronal structure of the mammalian cerebral cortex but on much smaller scales. NN are typically differentiated into layers, and processing is done from the input layer to the output layer through a complex process involving weighted connections. Deep Learning is the application of NN to learning tasks and Machine Learning is unsurprisingly the learning part of AI. It goes without saying that Neural Networks forms the basis on which the whole AI is dependent.
The AI market is rapidly growing and expanding; its influence is far-reaching, and likely to grow in the coming years. Many of us do not realise it, but we are already using this technology without even knowing. AI has been utilized for a very long time in video games, and recently, in games such as Call of Duty, AI has resulted in characters learning the behavior of the users, responding to stimuli and reacting in unpredictable ways. Another area where AI is being deployed is in fraud detection. Banks make use of AI to monitor frauds and send a signal to customers if there is a chance that a fraud has been committed on their account. Other areas include but are not limited to: Online customer support; Security Surveillance; News Generation and Music & movie recommendation services.
There is still a lot to be discovered about AI. Infact, the technology is so contentious that on one end, many companies are investing hugely into its research and development, and on the other end, some scientists fear that it would be the end of mankind. Even Bill Gates and Elon Musk have voiced negative opinions about AI. What is glaring though, is that AI exists everywhere and is making a huge difference in our daily lives.