The world of Artificial Intelligence is changing. Earlier AI was just a few programming hacks apart from traditional programming which needed a programmer to key in the instruction on the machine. Artificial Intelligence has come a long way since then, mostly due to machine learning. Machine Learning after all, is the only kind of artificial intelligence there is. Machine Learning enables machine intelligence – where, the machine learns, on its own, what kinds of output to throw for inputs which are similar. It does not require programmer intervention.
Curiosity has been driving the actions of human beings since the early civilizations. Human imagination has accomplished a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges in the past and the quest for knowledge has never faded. From the days when flying was beyond wildest of imaginations, we are in an age where a number of accident surveys have proved air travel to be safer than road travel. That’s right – today we’re more likely to die reaching an airport than while flying in an aircraft.
Human mind has always been curious to explore and understand the environment that we live in. Space exploration, nuclear energy, touchscreen phones and supercomputers have all been a result of constant pursuit of knowledge. While we often talk about achievements related to objects around us, there has been a significant development in how we understand what goes on within us. Artificial Intelligence (AI), as we know it today, was originally coined by computer scientist John McCarthy in 1956 to describe the study of intelligence in living beings, by studying its essential features on a computer. Simulating the functioning of cells and tissues rather than actual biological hardware laid the foundation stone for the creation of programmable, self-learning devices like robots.
Artificial Intelligence has seen contributions from a number of different fields related to technology, psychology, behavioral science and neural networks. In this article we cast an eye on the work done so far and more importantly on How Artificial Intelligence will fare in 2016?
Artificial Intelligence: Where We Stand?
We need not look around too far to find Artificial Intelligence at work. An auto-cut stabilizer, a fully automatic washing machine that can sense the amount of load and dirt (based which it decides how much water to use), a microwave which can be programmed to heat food at a particular temperature for a specified time and smartphones - are some of the most common examples of devices using Artificial Intelligence, though most of these are based on stimuli – reaction model, meaning they behave in a certain way to a particular input. True challenge of artificial intelligence has been to imbibe a sense of “context” in mechanical devices and software. Artificial Intelligence is much more than a search engine where a machine is expected to dig through data and respond to a query.
2015 was an important year for Artificial Intelligence, as it saw tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter make huge investments in it. Historically, major technological companies have kept their cards very close to their chests when it came to path breaking innovations in emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence. 2015 saw a marked deviation from that trend, where leading tech companies - Google, Microsoft and Facebook open sourced their tools for developing Artificial Intelligence projects. This will definitely give a boost to developers around the world, as they are motivated to come up with a number of new inventions.
What to expect from Artificial Intelligence in 2016?
2016 will see innovative minds from around the world come together on a number of Artificial Intelligence projects and leverage their collective knowledge to come up with ground breaking innovations. In the past, there have been companies that have known how to leverage Artificial Intelligence but have not been technology ready. On the other side, there have been technology focused companies ready with Artificial Intelligence products but have fallen short of ideas when it comes to large scale marketing and commercialization.
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Connected Devices: Combining Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT)
We are in an era where voice based Virtual Assistants (VAs) have moved beyond the test stage and are become important parts of our lives. Internet of Things (IoT) holds huge promise when it comes to changing the way we go about our everyday business. We have seen glimpses of an ecosystem of connected devices - where one can control the temperature of air conditioning unit installed in his bedroom from his office desk, using the power of mobile phone and cloud computing. In 2016 we expect the line between Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things to blur further, resulting in a number of “thinking” devices that can be trained to handle regular processes.
Artificial Intelligence supporting humans rather than replacing them
Ever since computers emerged into being user friendly, affordable devices there has been a perception that any new device with enhanced computing power, is in the process of replacing human beings. While humans cannot match the computing power of the machines, they now have more time to plan what to do with the data processed by intelligent devices. Artificial Intelligence has a long evolution path ahead of it, if it wants to match the cognitive abilities of a human brain. This is where humans and Artificial Intelligence devices can form a decisive combination to disrupt quite a few industries.
Artificial Intelligence to move beyond Information Technology
As more business applications start embracing Artificial Intelligence, there will be a paradigm shift in terms of its application. Traditionally, IT firms have been the flag bearers of tech innovations. As Artificial Intelligence covers more ground, applications of Artificial Intelligence would breach the barriers of organizations beyond IT. We expect large scale process analysis and re-engineering, resulting in efficient, intelligent processes that would require little or no monitoring.
As corporates invest in Artificial Intelligence, employees would be able to customize AI applications to automate their regular tasks and have more time for creativity and imagination.
Human eye as well as cameras are not able to form 3 dimensional images of distant objects. For industrial, military, agriculture and remote sensing applications of satellite images, it is imperative to combine several images to form one comprehensive 3D rendition of a location. Artificial Intelligence systems have the potential to put everything together. Vision systems can be applied to diagnose patients, drawing computer generated photographs of criminals and other such features.
Understanding human language and replying in the same language is one of the challenges that machines are expected to overcome. Significant progress has been made in this area but given the different languages and accents being spoken around the world, voice assistant systems of today are not up to it. Artificial Intelligence systems have huge contributions to make in this field.
Every human being has a different handwriting. Imagine the magnitude of effort involved in transitioning from a traditional documentation set up to a software based one, where thousands of files having hundreds of pages have to be converted in soft copy. Artificial Intelligence systems, when trained properly, can considerably reduce the effort by converting pages of hand written text into editable ASCII text.
This is the pinnacle of Artificial Intelligence application – robots that can perform tasks faster and better than human beings, without ever getting tired. These robots need not necessarily be intelligent. They can be programmed to do a particular task and they can do it over and over again. They can be given decision making powers to an extent by equipping them with sensors to detect their surroundings – temperature, light intensity, movement, obstruction, pressure, sound, etc. These parameters can then be processed to determine the kind of action to be taken. For example, a robot may be programmed to fetch components from one assembly line and place them on to another. However, if there is an obstruction in the way, it can be programmed to remove that first and then continue with the primary task.
2016 will definitely be the year of AI, with entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg taking on new year resolution to create his own version of Tony Stark (Iron Man’s) digital assistant just similar to Jarvis i.e. Just A Rather very Intelligent System. His goal for 2016 is to build an AI system that can run his home and create virtual reality visualizations so that he can build better services and lead Facebook more effectively.Google has already made significant progress with driverless cars and drones are well on their way to disrupt the supply chain and logistics sector. We are clearly headed for an exciting 2016 in terms of AI powered applications.
The best thing about Artificial Intelligence systems is that they learn with time. As they get trained and make mistakes, the feedback can be utilized to empower them into making better decisions in future. So, it is perfectly possible that an AI application gives us two different outputs to the same input, at different times. Isn’t it in line with what humans do?
Let us know what is your opinion on Artificial Intelligence. Do you know of a way it will significantly change our world in the future?
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