What is AI?

AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to a branch of computer science that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. It is essentially a brain for a computer that can learn and solve problems.

At its core, AI is about teaching computers to mimic or even improve upon human thought processes. One way AI does this is through machine learning, where computers learn from our behavior on the Internet. The AI recognizes patterns, makes predictions, and improves responses over time, much like how humans learn from experience.

Types and Subsets of AI

The most common types of AI today are Predictive AI and Generative AI.

  • Predictive AI analyzes past data to make forecasts about future events or trends, helping in decision-making and anticipating outcomes. Think of your favorite streaming service that suggests your favorite movies.
  • Generative AI creates new content, like images, text, or music, by learning from large amounts of existing data to mimic or support creativity. You can request an essay completed or create a drawing in seconds. See www.chat.openai.com or www.bard.google.com to learn more.

Applications of AI

AI is already being used in many fields including elections, health, education, finance, retail, cybersecurity, transportation, marketing, energy, agriculture, and entertainment.

Some day to day and real world examples include:

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants on shopping sites Online shopping recommendations based on browsing history
  • Google maps suggesting routes based on traffic patterns
  • Spam filters on email settings Voice recognition like Alexa and Siri
  • Facial recognition to login to your devices
  • Ride sharing apps connecting drivers to users
  • Health and disease diagnoses
  • Essay writing or video production

Considerations of AI

As the field of AI is evolving at a fast pace, there are positives, or benefits, and negatives, or challenges and concerns, that we need to understand.

Some pros include:

  • Automation of mundane or repetitive tasks that can increase efficiency and free up human resources for more complex tasks
  • Efficiency like processing large data sets leading to faster decision-making and problem-solving
  • Data analysis for finance or climate or other trends
  • Personalization of online experiences, content, and recommendations tailored to individual preferences
  • 24/7 availability as AI systems don’t need breaks and can operate around the clock offering full time customer support or data processing

Some challenges include:

  • Job displacement as AI can replace humans for automated tasks
  • Bias and discrimination from inherent bias that may be present in the data leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes
  • Ethics as there may be issues around privacy and consent for data usage
  • Security risks are a concern as AI becomes more sophisticated there can be increased cyber attacks
  • Reduced social interactions as there will be continued increase of automation and replacement of human tasks

Our Data and AI

All the data that is used by AI comes from us. When we use mobile devices, laptops, or any other devices to access the internet, we create a digital footprint. This digital footprint captures every single activity we do on the footprint and feeds AI. Roughly 90% of all the data today has been generated since 2017. 

AI is all around us. It makes our lives easier, it improves healthcare, education and much more.

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