The fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Jaryd Sage 09 February 2023

With the extensive coverage of artificial intelligence and machine learning in recent times, it’s important to understand the basics before you get into the details. Simply put, AI is a form of computer programming that enables computers to do things that would normally require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language and recognizing patterns. Let’s take a closer look at the development of AI, how it works and its potential implications for business.

A brief history of AI

Artificial Intelligence has a long and fascinating history, beginning in ancient Greek mythology with the concept of a mechanical servant made by the god of invention and blacksmithing, Hephaestus. The idea of a machine that could actually think like a human was first considered a realistic possibility by Alan Turing in the 1950s, who described the criterion for determining this intelligence, today known as The Turing Test.

Still in its infancy during the 60s, AI began to carry out basic tasks that would normally take humans a considerable amount of time, such as computing complex mathematics equations. AI was also beginning to be used for optimization problems on spacecraft like Apollo 11, which took the USA to the moon and back. The computer technology boom of the 1970s and 1980s saw the introduction of the personal computer and the invention of the internet, an environment for AI to flourish. Researchers developed technologies that incorporated a form of AI called “machine learning”, a process that allows a machine to learn from data rather than being programmed with specific instructions.

By the 1990s, many of the major technology companies were fully established, and AI became more than a buzzword – the field expanded to encompass robotics, widely utilized for various tasks in different industries. In the 2000s and 2010s businesses increasingly used AI to automate manual processes, producing more accurate results than ever before. Advanced software like machine learning algorithms could now reduce the need for engineering staff, drastically reducing cost and allowing for more precise analysis of customer data. It is no surprise then that AI was quickly adopted by an array of different organizations, from those in finance and banking to those in retail and hospitality industries.

elements of artifical intelligence

Artificial Intelligence today

Artificial intelligence has become integral to daily modern life. AI systems are increasingly being used by businesses to help streamline processes and analyse customer preferences, healthcare organizations to analyze patient data and generate medical diagnoses, and households for home automation. We are witnessing rapid breakthroughs in machine learning and deep learning that are improving AI applications daily, from simple chatbots to autonomous vehicles. Our dependence on AI suggests we will only continue to increase our interaction as advances in this field open additional doors and opportunities.

From a business perspective, utilising AI and machine learning is critical in order to remain competitive in most markets. AI enables businesses to perform tasks more efficiently and accurately by recognizing patterns and anticipating customer, and even employee, needs. Not only does this improve job satisfaction for employees in the long run with fewer mundane tasks, but it also allows for much-needed automation within a business’s day-to-day operations. With AI at their fingertips, businesses are now able to gain valuable insights into how well their products are operating in the market, save time with complex processes, and remain agile when changes arise. All of these elements provide a competitive edge in today’s global market and have solidified AI as an essential tool for businesses both small and large.

Leading AI technologies

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that uses data-driven algorithms to enable machines to learn from their experiences, identify patterns, and adapt their behavior without being explicitly programmed. This technology has been widely used for tasks such as fraud detection and predictions, with applications in areas such as healthcare, finance, entertainment and eCommerce already providing tangible benefits. While many people are wary of an automated future, there is no doubt that AI and machine learning have huge disruptive potential and could change almost every industry in the coming years.

Deep Learning

Deep learning is a type of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to create data models that simulate the human brain’s own neural networks. By providing computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed, deep learning techniques enable machines to perform complex tasks that have traditionally required human input or oversight, like recognizing speech and identifying images. From facial recognition and autonomous vehicles to intelligent personal assistants and document analysis, deep learning has opened up many potential applications across industries. Deep learning can be applied anywhere from medical imaging and diagnostics to search engine optimization and retail commerce. Despite its complexity, deep learning is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to recent advances in hardware and software technologies coupled with more robust datasets. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple are leading the charge in making deep learning a widely-adopted technology for businesses around the globe.

Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a field of artificial intelligence that takes unstructured text and identifies patterns, allowing us to gain valuable insights from conversations, newsletters, social media posts, and other forms of text. By using powerful computational techniques like text mining, semantic analysis, sentiment analysis, and machine learning, NLP solves many problems like automatic summarization, and gain understanding of customer wants and needs. In effect, it allows us to extract meaning out of the massive amounts of unstructured data available to us. Given its tremendous capability in information extraction, it’s no surprise that NLP has seen a surge in popularity in recent years.

Computer Vision

Computer Vision is an AI technology that combines elements of computer science, mathematics and engineering to recognize objects and shapes on computer screens. It uses algorithms to analyze visual data from cameras, videos, and other sources in order to detect objects and draw meaningful conclusions from the images. This technology has a range of applications including facial recognition for authentication services, image classification for online shopping, and motion tracking for virtual reality gaming. Computer Vision strives to replicate the way we perceive the world with our eyes and is pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible with technology today.

The future of Artificial Intelligence

Exciting advancements in artificial intelligence have been made in recent years that could potentially enable unprecedented levels of intelligence that surpass even our own. AI can do things that people simply cannot. From processing large quantities of data in seconds, creating content with little to no errors, and even understanding abstract concepts much more quickly than the average human, it also excels at prediction; reasoning through multiple scenarios and selecting the right predicted outcome often far superior to what any human could do with the same amount of data. It’s this kind of technology that makes us so hopeful for what lies ahead!

As AI continues to evolve, it is likely to become a further integrated part of daily life in the future, bringing with it immense potential for efficiency and productivity gains. Ultimately with continued investment and research into AI, its implications on human life have yet to be fully realised – but certainly, point towards a future filled with possibilities.

If you are interested in figuring out how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be harnessed to solve a problem, and improve or grow your organisation, schedule a chat with one of our qualified consultants.