What is AI?
We touch artificial intelligence (AI) everyday without even realizing it. AI is the technology behind the apps on our devices and virtually all other tech we come across. AI is the foundation for our experiences in healthcare, employment, housing, criminal justice, and nearly every other major area of modern society.
AI makes our lives easier and more challenging at the same time. It makes things faster, more personalized, and more convenient. AI saves lives, prevents foreseeable illness, predicts weather, and generally helps people cut down on time spent on repetitive tasks. Without AI, we wouldn't have Siri or Google Assistant, GPS, online shopping, financial loan applications, employment applications, criminal justice systems, small businesses, autonomous (driverless) vehicles, or cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and pain management tools.
However, AI can also be flawed, full of bias, discrimination, and failed tools.
A computer programmer writes algorithms which are instructions to tell the computer what we are looking to accomplish. For example, when AI was still a baby technology, an algorithm would instruct an app or website to place a pair of pants in the virtual cart of a clothing website when a visitor clicks on them.
But today, AI now goes further than that simple function. AI uses machine learning, when a computer teaching itself something new using data, to instruct the computer, "when someone clicks a pair of pants, find all other similar pants and suggest them before sending to payment."
So where does the computer get the data needed to make those suggestions?
The data comes for all of us. We all create a digital footprint whenever we use mobile devices, laptops, or any other device to access information on the Internet. This digital footprint is created by capturing every single activity we do on the Internet. For example, if we tend to buy jeans when we buy pants, the computer will suggest mostly jeans in the example above. Roughly 90% of all data today has been generated since 2017.
Artificial intelligence is computer science. The better the science gets, the more AI will resemble humans. There's no limit to what it can accomplish.