Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction. Particular applications of AI include expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision.
AI can be categorized as either weak or strong. Weak AI, also known as narrow AI, is an AI system that is designed and trained for a particular task. Virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, are a form of weak AI. Strong AI, also known as artificial general intelligence, is an AI system with generalized human cognitive abilities. When presented with an unfamiliar task, a strong AI system is able to find a solution without human intervention.
- Reactive machines
An example is Deep Blue, the IBM chess program that beat Garry Kasparov in the 1990s. Deep Blue can identify pieces on the chessboard and make predictions, but it has no memory and cannot use past experiences to inform future ones. It analyzes possible moves – its own and of its opponent – and chooses the most strategic move. Deep
- Limited memory
These AI systems can use past experiences to inform future decisions. Some of the decision-making functions in self-driving cars are designed this way. Observations inform actions happening in the not-so-distant future, such as a car changing lanes. These observations are not stored permanently.
- Theory of mind
This psychology term refers to the understanding that others have their own beliefs, desires and intentions that impact the decisions they make. This kind of AI does not yet exist.
In this category, AI systems have a sense of self, have consciousness. Machines with self-awareness understand their current state and can use the information to infer what others are feeling. This type of AI does not yet exist.
Artificial intelligence has made its way into a number of areas. Here are six examples.
The biggest bets are on improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. Companies are applying machine learning to diagnose better and faster than humans. One of the best known healthcare technologies is IBM Watson. It understands natural language and is capable of responding to questions asked of it. Other AI applications include chatbots, a computer program used online to answer questions and assist customers, to help schedule follow-up appointments or aid patients through the billing process, and virtual health assistants that provide basic medical feedback.
Robotic process automation is being applied to highly-repetitive tasks normally performed by humans. Machine learning algorithms are being integrated into analytics and CRM platforms to uncover information on how to better serve customers. Chatbots have been incorporated into websites to provide immediate service to customers.
AI can automate grading, giving educators more time. AI can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI tutors can provide additional support to students, ensuring they stay on track. AI could change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers.
AI in personal finance applications, such as Mint or Turbo Tax, is disrupting financial institutions. Applications such as these collect personal data and provide financial advice. Other programs, such as IBM Watson, have been applied to the process of buying a home.
The discovery process, sifting through of documents, in law is often overwhelming for humans. Automating this process is a more efficient use of time. Startups are also building question-and-answer computer assistants that can sift programmed-to-answer questions by examining the taxonomy and ontology associated with a database.
This is an area that has been at the forefront of incorporating robots into the workflow. Industrial robots used to perform single tasks and were separated from human workers, but as the technology advanced that changed.