Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving technology that has the potential to revolutionise, well… pretty much everything!
But… AI isn’t a new technology.
The concept of AI has been around for decades, early AI research dates back as far as the 1950s! In those days, AI research was focused on developing machines that could think and reason like humans. However, those first attempts were unsuccessful, and AI research fell out of favour for a long time.
Back in the ‘80s, AI research rose from the ashes, thanks to advances in computing power and machine learning (ML).
Today, AI is a thriving field of research, and AI-powered solutions are being used in a huge variety of industries.
- Personalised ads when shopping online
- Fraud detection in banks
- Google translate
- Self-driving cars
- Video games
- And so much more
Written by: Kieran Smith
Junior Software Consultant, FormusPro
A Brief History Of AI
One of the earliest milestones in AI research was the development of the Turing test back in 1950. The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
Then, in 1956, the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence was held, and this conference is considered to be the start of modern AI research.
Over the next few decades, AI research made significant progress, but there were also some serious setbacks.
In the ‘70s, there was a period of ‘AI winter’, when funding for AI research dried up.
In the ‘90s, however, AI research began to focus on developing practical applications for AI. This led to the development of AI-powered solutions in a variety of industries, such as finance, healthcare, and transportation.
Then, during the ‘00s, AI research continued to make progress, with AI-powered solutions becoming much more widespread.
In recent years, there’s been a surge of interest in AI, as businesses of all sizes have begun to invest in AI-powered solutions.
Key Milestones In AI Research
- The Turing Test:The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. The test was developed by Alan Turing in 1950.
- The Advent Of Machine Learning (ML):Machine Learning is a field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning is one of the most important technologies in AI.
- Development Of Deep Learning:Deep learning is a type of ML that uses artificial neural networks to learn from data. Deep learning has been responsible for some of the most significant advances in AI in recent years.
- The First Self-Driving Car: The first self-driving car was created by Google in 2010. Self-driving cars are one of the most promising applications of AI.
The Future Of AI
The future of AI looks bright and is getting brighter.
AI’s poised to revolutionise a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to transportation. It will also have a huge impact on society.
For example, AI could be used to create new forms of entertainment, solve some of the world's most pressing problems or even create new forms of life!
11 Times AI Was Already In Our Lives And We Didn’t Realise
Ok, ok, onto the main reason you clicked through to this article. Here’s eleven ways in which AI is already being widely used and you probably didn’t even realise it:
Facial Recognition On Your Phone
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
If you’re anything like us, we bet it’s look at your phone. And despite us being bleary eyed, dishevelled and still half asleep, our phone still unlocks through our Facial ID.
The biometrics behind that uses AI to function… in fact, many phones can now ‘see’ in 3D, lighting up your face with over 30,000 infrared dots to capture your image.
From there, the AI uses ML algorithms to compare the image of your face with data it has stored to see if the person unlocking your phone is you or not.
Social Media Algorithms
What’s next after you’ve unlocked your phone?
Do you check your socials? Not only does every single social media company on the planet use AI behind the scenes to personalise what you’re seeing (as their algorithm has learnt what content you’ll most likely engage with, keeping you on the platform longer, meaning they can show you more adverts) but on a more positive note, the AI will also be figuring out what’s fake news and either hiding or removing it, as well as actively working to identify and prevent cyber bullying.
The platforms still have a long way to go (we’re not suggesting otherwise) but the AI will get them there eventually (hopefully!).
Ordering An Uber
Ordering an Uber can’t involve AI, surely? It’s just a slightly smarter taxi, right?
Well, that ‘slightly smarter’ (and it’s actually a lot smarter) is the AI at work. Uber uses AI to match riders to drivers based on proximity and ratings, calculate fares and to best optimise routes.
Netflix And AI
Netflix (in fact, all streaming services) use AI to recommend movies and TV shows to users based on not only their own past viewing history, but also the viewing history of others who have watched similar shows.
Websites like Amazon (websites especially like Amazon, in fact) use AI for a whole host of purposes, from recommending products to users based on past purchases, browsing history, search terms and other user’s similar purchases (much like streaming services do), right through to optimising their website live.
In fact, at any point in time, Amazon ca have up to twenty different versions of their homepage live, constantly testing and learning which configuration generates the most revenue.
When Was The Last Time You Sent An Email?
Every day most of us will send an email or message (probably a lot more than one in fact!).
The tools that check spelling and grammar when you compose those messages all use AI, based on natural language processing, and spell check has been around for a LONG time now!
On the other end of your email, spam filters also use AI to either block messages that are suspected as spam or identify emails as something you’d want to receive in your inbox.
Anti-virus software does something similar with machine learning to protect your email account as well and has done for a while now.
Search Engine (Mostly Google) Searches
Most of us can’t go a day without searching Google for an answer to one of life’s great mysteries (the answer’s 42 by the way!).
Search engines couldn’t scan the entire internet and deliver what you want without the assistance of artificial intelligence.
And those ads that seem to follow you around?
Yep, those are enabled by AI, are based on your search history, and are personalised to you with the goal of getting items in front of you that the algorithms believe you will value most.
Digital Voice Assistants
From getting directions to the nearest lunch spot right through to finding out about the weather for your weekend getaway, digital voice assistants have quickly become our can’t-live-without companions in life.
Tools like Siri and Alexa through to Google Home and Cortana though couldn’t exist without natural language processing driven by AI to not only recognise what you’re asking, but also respond in kind.
From talking toasters (à la Red Dwarf), right through to ‘smart’ thermostats such as the Nest that’s capable of learning about our heating/cooling preferences and daily habits so the temperature is always adjusted to our liking. Many devices in our homes now routinely use AI to make our lives easier (think about the smart refrigerators that create lists for what we need based on what's no longer in the fridge).
None of that would be possible without AI being capable of learning our preferences and reacting accordingly to them.
Commuting To Work
Even getting to work in the morning doesn’t escape the reach of AI! And travel aids enabled by AI include a lot more than satnavs these days.
Whilst Google maps and other travel apps do use AI to monitor traffic to give real-time traffic and weather conditions as well as suggested ways to avoid traffic jams, newer uses of AI might be cars with driver-assist technology for cruise control or self-parking.
We’re also not that far away from everyone ‘driving’ self-drive cars everywhere, again, only possible with some pretty advanced AI and ML.
AI And The Finance Sector
There are many ways AI is deployed in our banking systems.
It's highly involved in the security of our transactions to detect fraud.
AI is always at work behind the scenes.
If you visit a shop at lunch to purchase a t-shirt, AI will verify the purchase to determine if it's a "normal" transaction to either validate or decline it for fear someone unauthorised is using your card.
AI is also being used in financial trading to make trades faster and more profitable than human traders.
As AI continues to develop, it’s likely to have an even greater impact on our lives.
AI has the potential to revolutionise the way we live, work, and play as the possibilities are almost endless.
But, whilst the potential benefits of AI are incalculable, there are also some challenges and ethical concerns that need to be addressed.
- AI bias:AI systems can be biased if they are trained on data that is biased. This could lead to AI systems making unfair decisions, such as discriminating against certain groups of people.
- Employment displacement:AI could displace jobs that are currently done by humans. This could lead to increased unemployment and social unrest.
- Privacy:AI systems could collect and store a vast amount of data about people. This data could be used to track people's movements, monitor their behaviour, and even predict their future actions. This could raise serious privacy concerns.
- Accountability:If AI systems make mistakes, who is responsible? It’s not always clear who should be held accountable for the actions of an AI system. This could lead to legal and ethical challenges.
- Transparency:It’s important for AI systems to be transparent so that people can understand how they work and make informed decisions about their use. However, it can be difficult to make AI systems transparent, as they often use complex algorithms that are difficult to understand.
Whilst the long-term future of AI might be uncertain, it’s guaranteed to change the world in many ways.
That’s why it’s so important for businesses to start planning now on how it can be used to improve processes and better serve customers.