When we were born, the idea of such a small, powerful computer was a sci-fi dream, and now these smart-devices are everywhere, transforming personal health, relationships and business transactions so completely that life without these seems impossible. We’re entering a new era of technology that’s bound to reshape the lives of our children predominantly. Yes, this is the era of artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence is one of the most talked subjects these days, and recent advances in technology have made AI even closer to reality than most of us can imagine.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
In Simplest terms AI is: “The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior”
Artificial intelligence is a program that does a task and its performance gets better every time it does that task.
Although this definition has a lot of loopholes, but the basic idea is that AI uses complex algorithms and sometimes natural language processing to interact with its surroundings to do a task with its own learning.
What was once just a figment of the imagination of some our most famous science fiction writers, artificial intelligence (AI) is taking root in our everyday lives. Binge-watching television shows and online shopping carts full of suggested add-ons are commonplace, even though most consumers aren’t aware of what’s powering the recommendations. Weather forecasts, email spam filtering, Google’s search predictions, and voice recognition, such Microsofts’ Cortana, Apple’s Siri, are all examples.
Robots are no longer limited to traditional jobs, with fully automated assembly lines and high-frequency trading algorithms, robots are replacing bank tellers, mortgage brokers and loan officers in the financial industry.
We’re already seeing an increase in workplace productivity thanks to AI advancements. There is so much potential for AI development that it’s getting harder to imagine a future without it. We will even see machine-learning algorithms used to prevent cyber-terrorism and payment fraud, albeit with increasing public debate over privacy implications.
AI will also have a strong impact in healthcare advancements due to its ability to analyze massive amounts of genomic data, leading to more accurate prevention and treatment of medical conditions on a personalized level.
Artificial Intelligence: Promise or Peril?
Can a car be programmed to act more safely than a driver would, to take into account the magnitude of variables, including other humans’ behavior, weather and the environment? Science says yes, but this is a concept that many humans find difficult to accept.
Can artificial intelligence find a way to surpass human intelligence through mechanical means, leading to ever-increasing prosperity and leisure? Or will artificial intelligence lead to human doom?
Many questions, concerns and debates are there. Yes, there will be growing comforts as AI technology evolves, but the negative impact it may have on society in terms of efficiency is immeasurable. We think of ourselves as evolved creatures. It’s just that sometimes we forget how slow that evolution is.
Along comes Stephen Hawking to remind us that artificial intelligence might just evolve a little quicker than we’re prone to. The result could be the end of our evolution and, indeed, the end of us. The subject really got traction when Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and more than 1,000 AI and robotics researchers signed an open letter issuing a warning regarding the use of AI in weapons development last year.
Just imagine, if those who had worked on nuclear physics for a good cause in its early days, would have thought that nukes will raze Hiroshima & Nagasaki one day? While the discussion occasionally turns to potential doomsday scenarios, there is a consensus that when used for good, artificial intelligence could radically change the course of human history. And that is especially true when it comes to big data.
Why is it the best time to learn Artificial Intelligence?
Technology is the most rapidly developing sector in the human history. In past 15-20 years, it has out-grown far more than biology or physics did in last 100 years. In awe of that, every 5-10 years, a company comes up with a new technology and creates a monopoly over the market. Be it Windows in software and operating system, Google with its search engine and smart phone technology, or Facebook with its dominance over social media. The growth was fast, but more or less linear.
But we are at the verge of an exponential growth in technology. A growth never seen before. And all the big players – Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla – everyone is trying to harness that technology to ride the giant wave of growth. While a news that a computer program defeated world best ‘Go’ player (Go is a traditional cardboard game) might seem a minor achievement for most but it is an evidence that we are literally in a state where about any problem can be solved by a computer on its own.
There’s a mixed popular opinion on the topic. While AI has been depicted as villain many times in fan-fiction, experts have the opinion that it will make lives easier beyond imagination.
How to Learn AI
As complicated as it may sound, there are several free online courses on introduction to artificial intelligence on MOOCs that start from scratch. There are several terms attached to AI that might also sound interesting, like machine learning, deep learning, and neural network.
All these things come under the umbrella of data science and AI and will certainly help you learn and implement AI faster and more efficiently. But it is recommended to complete an introductory course on AI first.
But why should you bother learning AI, even if you are not from a computer science background? First, from a job perspective, Machine learning and Artificial intelligence will create a lot of jobs in coming years. If you are looking forward to get a job in computer science related jobs, a certification on Artificial intelligence will definitely come handy.
Even if you are not so much into coding, AI is a very interesting field and has several applications of daily use. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg, as his new year resolution is creating an artificial intelligence tool for himself – like Jarvis for Iron-man. Although it will require some effort from your side, it will be worth it. Who knows, you might end up creating an artificial intelligence tool that turns out to be the ‘next-big-thing’.
(With Inputs from Chand Sethi, Coordinator, DePP, BITS Goa)