Artificial intelligence is all around you

Artificial intelligence

Step by step Artificial Intelligence has infiltrated our lives to the point where it is all around us. Its developers have made remarkable progress with its uses; it can play games of strategy with us, but more often it has a more serious commercial use that we encounter every day.

AI is based on the human brain

Human intelligence is the blueprint for AI. How else could its creators construct it? Its very workings are the product of humans and their thinking, so it is natural that it emulates human brain functions. Having said that, it has not yet acquired all our skills, because we don’t even know all the ways in which our brains work, so until we have that knowledge, we can’t replicate it in an algorithm. For example, one of the burning questions amongst those who follow the development of AI is, “does AI actually think?”

Does AI really ‘think’?

The answer is that to some extent, yes it does. The neural pathways of the human brain dynamically exchange information all the time and transmit bits of data to its different centres, such as memory and language. We also have the ability to learn and connect what we learn to what we already know. The complexity of these processes is mind-boggling and each one of us has a unique intelligence; you will rarely find a person who encompasses all the types of intelligence we have catalogued in our world, such as academic excellence, street smarts, EQ, business acumen, artistic vision, manual skills and spiritual wisdom. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But, can AI ever hope to replicate our diversity in thinking?

AI imitates the brain’s neural pathways

Well, it is already able to ‘think’ to a certain extent, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to play chess with AI as the opponent. Instead of neurons carrying information, AI has Artificial Neural Networks (ANN). These are “a type of machine learning algorithm in which nodes simulate neurons that compute and distribute information,” says technology writer Joelle Renstrom. These algorithms allow AI to follow the same ‘layered’ thinking that we do. For example, Renstrom in her excellent article on AI in the Daily Beast, explains how we view a sporting event, taking in an enormous range of diverse information and in processing it, we use, “memory, pattern recognition, statistical and strategic analysis, comparison, prediction, and other cognitive capabilities.” The, what is called ‘deep learning’ of AI is doing the same and we encounter its ‘thought’ processes every day.

AI in your media

Have you ever posted a message on social media about shopping for shoes and moments later you notice that adverts for shoe brands are popping up on your screen? That’s AI. You mentioned shoes; it will give you shoes. And it is capable of finding the type of shoes you like, because at sometime or other you’ve probably browsed shoes online, and now Facebook’s algorithm shows you some alternative brands, and in a style that corresponds with your original choice. Mention that you’re visiting Ibiza on social media and you’ll discover ads for Ibiza-related products when you go to read a newspaper online. It’s uncanny.

There are many more exciting aspects to AI that I will look at in future blogs, including how it will acquire general intelligence and whether or not it will ever have the capacity to replicate human creative thinking. AI is here to stay, so we must learn how to maximise its use for our benefit, rather than see it as a competitor to our intelligence.


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