It is widely believed the civilised world has just entered the Age of AI (Artificial Intelligence) for good. While some forms of AI have been around since mid 1950s and many prophesised already back then it would dramatically change our lives within a decade (e.g. by bringing intelligent robots and self-driving cars) the history proved them wrong. So why do we think the revolution is happening now? And what is AI after all? Why is it relevant not only for consumers but - even more - for businesses?
Fall starts of the Age of AI
Rapid development of computing after the World War II, fuelled by arms race and space programmes, made scientists, intellectuals, authors and journalists believe that transition from machines following sets of programmed rules to self-learning, human-like systems is a matter of single years. Literature and entertainment industry added to the hype. With inventions like UNIMATE, the first mass-produced industrial robot from General Motors, ELIZA and SHRDLU, the first natural language processing environments, PREDATOR combat drones, DEEP BLUE defeating Garry Kasparov etc. etc. - each decade saw another wave of false hope that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) would become human’s partner in everyday life and Super General Intelligence (SGI), going far beyond levels ever accessible to even brightest people, would change the world forever. Today, we still have not managed to build even a true AGI (well, who knows the real advancements of Chinese army or other contestants…) but we are quite certain we have reached the point when AI is finally ready and accessible for all who are willing to benefit.
What is AI?
So, what is today’s Artificial Intelligence? Well, in simplest words, it is the ability of hardware or software to exhibit behaviours mimicking human intelligence. Or, following Russel & Norvig definition, machines (or computers) that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as "learning" and "problem solving". The most important, practical characteristics, however, is that with AI, the burden of finding solution to the problem can be shifted from the programmer to the program, thus opening vast new oceans of possibilities.
Bright future or menace to humankind?
While majority of business people, scientists and authors believes in bright future of humanity benefitting from development of AI towards AGI or SGI, there are of course some, who think different, like Elon Musk, who has warned us on many occasions that we should be careful playing with AI or like the author of “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era”, James Barrat, who claims that if the SGI is finally invented in one of the secret army labs and it is connected to the Internet, it would most likely quickly spread and aim at eradicating human race as an obstacle in the way towards world domination and access to Earth’s resources. Some authors, like AI researcher Janelle Shane, claim that the danger of Artificial Intelligence isn't that it's going to rebel against us, but that it's going to do exactly what we ask it to do. And she publishes numerous, sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing examples on her AI Weirdness blog.
The obvious truth is, we do not know the future, so why don’t we concentrate on trying to benefit as much as possible from what is already available? That is our goal at Brainhint.
Why does it matter?
So, even if current AI is not really human yet, and not as intelligent as the name suggest, what is most important from our perspective as business users is that:
- it is good-enough at solving most of the problems faced by modern businesses, in most cases, if configured right, more accurate in predictions than domain experts,
- it can automate time-consuming, mundane tasks thus freeing talented people to do more creative things and contribute better to their organisations’ success,
- it is available at a reasonable cost, in various models, including affordable cloud where customers pay only for the processing power and storage they need at every moment.
What made us – Brainhint founders and the team - decide to jump on this train?
We think at Brainhint that finally the balance between costs and benefits of implementing AI is right and attractive for business leaders. And we will strive at making it even more attractive by finding ways and methods to simplify use of AI, making it cheaper and more accessible than ever before. Let’s say boldly: We want to democratise access to AI and allow non-technical users to benefit from Machine Learning!
This is not supposed to be a scientific blog with rigorous rules, so I and my colleagues will try to blend our personal insights, views and implementation experiences with news and facts on latest developments from the world of AI in an easy-to-digest manner. We will share our thoughts and tips on how to assess organisation’s readiness for AI, estimate potential gains, measure success and more. We will cover topics ranging from use of simple versions of Robotic Process Automation, through various types and applications of Machine Learning, including deep learning. We will try to avoid as much as possible the (pseudo)scientific jargon but at the same time aim at presenting the matter with some level of interesting detail.
I hope you will enjoy!
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