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AI: Where it is Now and Where it’s Headed

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a goal of technologists since the days of the earliest computers. Despite intense global research and development efforts, AI remains one of the most difficult technologies to get right. However, incredible strides have been made this year towards understanding and advancing AI. In fact, you’ll now be more likely to hear about AI breakthroughs in the news than you are to see nothing at all.

In this article, we’ll be laying out all the key details to help you better understand AI’s role today, and where it’s headed in the coming years.

The basics

There are three main levels of AI

The first level is artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), which uses computational power to excel in one specific area. Operating an industrial machine and making product recommendations are two real-world examples of ANI, and it’s the most widely used form of AI today.

The second level is artificial general intelligence (AGI). This refers to computers that possess intelligence roughly equal to that of humans. AGI should be able to perform practically any intellectual task humans can, with roughly equivalent results. This sort of AI understands various complex concepts and learns through experience.

The highest level of AI is artificial superintelligence (ASI). This idea involves supercomputers whose intelligence exceeds human ability. It’s the stuff of science fiction books and movies, and remains beyond reach of our current capabilities, at least in the way we generally think of ASI. However, it’s likely that an AGI capable of self-improvement would quickly advance to the level of ASI, so step two is a necessary goal en route to ASI.

AI today works largely to make our lives easier. AI helps us perform voice searches, make purchases, operate our home devices and appliances, and it also facilitates B2C interactions. 45 percent of millennials claim that AI saves time in their daily lives, and 42 percent of baby boomers claim the same, so there’s no question that this technology has been embraced by the public.

For the most part, we use AI today in the form of customer assistance, chatbots and intelligent home devices. You may not realize it, but your online customer service interactions are more likely to be with a bot than a human being. You may even be talking to bots on the phone for bill payments and other business related requests. Home assistants are also increasingly popular. Roughly 39 million American adults own a voice-activated smart speaker today. This rise in AI-powered personal assistants have quickly created a culture of high expectations for personalization. Utilizing predictive analytics, businesses can recommend the products we’re most likely to be interested in and can remind us when it’s time to restock on necessities.

As AI research continues, new developments and further improvements are bound to push the technology to new heights and into new capabilities. Industry pioneers have offered ambitious predictions for where and how these developments are likely to impact our daily lives. Let’s take a look at some more interesting statements from technologists and other industry leaders.

Identification

“Thanks to AI, the face will be the new credit card, the new driver’s license and the new barcode. Facial recognition is already completely transforming security with biometric capabilities being adopted, and seeing how tech and retail are merging, like Amazon is with Whole Foods, I can see a new future where people will no longer need to stand in line at the store.” – Georges Nahon, Orange Silicon Valley CEO

HR and recruiting

“Imagine a world in which employers use an AI-based application to help evaluate candidates who respond to a job ad on Instagram. Such an application would analyze information the applicant shares—on his or her skills, work history, volunteer efforts, and other achievements—and then match those patterns against the employer’s data on job requirements, the company’s culture, and how recent hires with similar profiles are performing.”– Mark Hurd, Oracle CEO.

Healthcare

“By 2019 half of leading healthcare systems will adopt some form of AI within their diagnostic groups. Firstly in diagnostic medical specialties and eventually implemented into population healthcare, hospital operations and a broad set of clinical specialties. The adoption of [AI] technology may truly transform the way providers work and the way patients experience healthcare on a global scale.”– Mark Michalski, Executive Director, Massachusetts General Hospital

“AI in 2018 and the coming years will be so embedded into our clinical systems that it will no longer be called AI but rather just a regular system.”– Luciano Prevedello, M.D., M.P.H Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

These predictions, are just a taste of AI’s potential uses. Beyond 2020, Gartner expects AI to be most commonly used in “decision support” and “decision automation systems.” In other words, handling data-driven tasks that previously required human intervention. This might involve AI systems that can turn voice into text, process handwritten texts, or assess the difficulty of classifying information, which are all current applications for AI technology that still have room for much wider adoption. This form of AI technology might account for 16 percent of total AI usage in 2022.

AI’s future and the power it might hold remain uncertain. The strides we’ve seen thus far, and expected development gains in the future, mean that everything from education to manufacturing can expect to shift to a more AI-enabled existence. Ideas that were far fetched or beyond budgets in the recent past are open to exploration today, and it seems like AI will become a more prominent part of our lives in the future.

What do you think?

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