It is an undeniable fact that the 21st century has seen a revolutionary change in the way we see and use technology. This includes the development of smarter and faster devices. Artificial intelligence is gradually taking the lead in this revolution. Artificial intelligence-AI is a field in computer science which creates intelligent machines that reacts and behave like humans. Wikipedia defines Artificial intelligence as intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.
Artificial Intelligence and Humans
The goals or problems AI research tends to achieve or solve include giving machine some sort of reasoning, human knowledge representation into machines, planning, ability for machines or computer to learn, enabling computers and machines to process natural human language, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects.
But how does researchers aim to achieve these on a machine, you may wonder. The answer lies in the use of algorithms. An algorithm is a set of unique and clearly defined instructions that a mechanical computer can execute. A complex algorithm (more difficult instructions that involves many decisions)is often built on top of other, simpler, algorithms. Some algorithms upon which an AI technology is built are designed with the capability to learn by itself from acquired data. As a result, such system gradually become smarter and independent.
Without any doubt, achieving all these set goals will be a giant stride for humans in general. And the good news is, to some extent, most of these systems are either partially or fully functional for a number of applications.
Here in this article, I will highlight a few application areas of artificial intelligence today and try to break it down without much technical terms. So follow along
Artificial Intelligence sub-fields
First, let’s examine the categories of the application areas and sub-fields of AI, there are five of them :
Reasoning: The ability of an AI system to solve problems through logical deduction (making a decision based on available facts). A good example is in games.
Knowledge: The ability to present knowledge about the surrounding world. Example is in medical diagnosis.
Planning: The ability to set and achieve goals. e.g. scheduling and logistics
Communication: The ability to understand spoken and written natural human language.e.g. real-time translation of spoken and written languages, real-time transcription, intelligent assistants
Perception: The ability to infer things about the world through sounds, images, and other sensory inputs. e.g. autonomous vehicles (drones and driverless car) and surveillance.
Now let’s see the real life practical applications of Artificial intelligence as it cuts across every aspects of life from health care to education, transportation and entertainment.
Optical character recognition
Imagine having to enter the contents of written text, photographed or scanned documents or capturing text of a vehicle identification plate, you will agree that this is a boring and tiring task. Often abbreviated OCR the Optical Character Recognition/Reader is a AI system that converts images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text, whether from a scanned document, or a photo of a document. It has gained wide usage as a form of information entry from printed paper data records – whether passport documents, invoices, bank statements, computerised receipts, business cards, mail, printouts of static-data, or any suitable documentation. with OCR, it is has become easier to digitize printed texts so that they can be electronically edited, searched, and stored more compactly.
This has made it possible for users to communicate with machines with their voice.This AI implementation enables the recognition and translation of spoken language into text by computers. It is also known as automatic speech recognition (ASR), computer speech recognition or speech to text (STT). It is often used in voice activated machines, virtual assistant and in some security set up that needs voice recognition.
Artificial intelligence is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors. According to Bloomberg Technology, Microsoft has developed AI to help doctors find the right treatments for cancer
A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image,life image or a video frame from a video source. This has been applied to a number of security systems ranging from access control to mobile phones.
Computer Vision and Virtual reality
Technological advancements like autonomous vehicles (drones and driver-less cars) and autonomous robots, makes use of Computer Vision to gain high-level understanding from images. A good example is Sophia the humanoid Robot that can easily identify people and hold conversations.
Like the name implies, virtual reality (VR) is a form of interactive user experience which is computer generated and happening in a simulated environment. Simply, when you use a VR system, you see, hear and experience an environment that is generated by the computer which is not really there. VR is becoming highly popular in the world of gaming where players get an immersive experience with the gaming experienc.
A woman puts on a virtual reality goggles enjoys an immersive experience of the virtual world
Photo and video manipulation
Artificial intelligence has found a firm footing in the field of Photo and video manipulation. This usually involves transforming or altering a photograph using various methods and techniques to achieve desired results. For many today, the ability of a camera to produce clear and beautiful images/videos determines acceptance. Employing the power of Artificial Intelligence however has improved and changed what we used to know in photography, more importantly is the application in mobile phone cameras which are now smarter.
As researchers continue to explore the field of AI, the possibilities are endless. With innovative ideas springing up everyday, we are gradually approaching the time when AI powered machines are integrated to the human society and most of our tasks are automated and handled by these intelligent robots.
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Do you think this is a good thing for the human society or should it be regulated and curbed? Let us know in the comment below.