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Artificial Intelligence - menace or hope?

Almost 70 years ago (1950), Alan Turing proposed a test to measure intelligence of machines - the ability of machines to use a natural language. First artificial intelligence (AI) laboratories were opened in the United States at two universities simultaneously: Carnegie Mellon and MIT. This marked the onset of research of artificial intelligence primarily defined as construction of machines which could be described as having traits of human intelligence, i.e. able to have a conversation in a natural language.

Continuous development of AI was demonstrated in the conclusions of the report of May 30, 2017, published by representatives of Oxford and Yale universities[1], which attempted to describe the future of artificial intelligence based on a questionnaire carried out among specialists in machine learning and artificial intelligence. According to the report the scientists expect that by 2024 AI will be successfully translating languages, write essays at the high-school level by 2026, drive a truck by 2027, work in retail in an automatic mode by 2031, and by 2049 AI will be able to write a best-selling novel, and work as a surgeon by 2053. Additionally, experts believe that there is a 50% chance to develop AI which will be better than humans at all tasks within 45 years and to automatize all work performed by humans in the next 120 years! Based on those conclusions one could say that dynamic changes are occurring both in business and in everyday life. The market is flooded with analyses which show how important the implementation of AI solutions really is in the general business. 61% of the surveyed companies confirm that they are currently implementing artificial intelligence solutions and machine learning algorithms, 71% claim that they have innovative strategies in which they intend to invest in new AI-related technologies, 59% confirm that they have a set budget for investments in artificial intelligence while admitting that this budget is systematically growing.[2]

The post popular and the most widely used solutions based on AI mentioned in reports and studies include:

  • predictive analytics - processes of identification and looking for dependencies in existing data sets in order to define patterns and use them to forecast future trends, tendencies and events,
  • machine learning - algorithms used for automatic learning based on available information. The system adjusts its operations to the information received from the outside world. In this way it improves its operations based on past experiences.
  • natural language processing - a combination of AI and linguistics which automatizes analysis, comprehension, translation and generation of natural language based on texts and objects,
  • voice recognition - algorithms which interpret human speech as a method of interaction between humans and machines, or for translation purposes,
  • chatbots/virtual assistants - computer software used for running conversations (text user interface or natural language),
  • decision-supporting algorithms and expert systems - which support decision making. 

One can clearly formulate a thesis that artificial intelligence is already present in our professional and personal lives. One cannot fail to notice its impact on the society and fears regarding future relations between humans, artificial intelligence, machines and robots. Those fears are fuelled by literature, films and science fiction games in which machines have been presented as enemies of humanity and artificial intelligence as the source of doom. Additionally, there are fears regarding future workplaces and professions which could disappear because of robotics and automation.

Contrary to all those gloomy visions propagated also by famous and active personalities of the business or science world (e.g. Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking), actual advancements in the development of artificial intelligence may not by that impressive. It is believed that there is too much media hype and disinformation around this issue. In order to build artificial intelligence we would have to be able to sufficiently know the nature of human intelligence and the way human brain works. This hasn’t happened so far and to fully understand the intricacies of work and data processing by neurons is still ahead of us. 

So we can rest assured and fearlessly observe how advanced algorithms, robotics, the incessantly growing computing power assist and replace people in doing everyday mundane tasks. We don’t have to worry about workplaces (there will be new ones for machine and robot maintenance) and about the domination of even the most advanced artificial intelligence over humans.

[1] When Will AI Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from AI Experts; Katja Grace, John Salvatier, Allan Dafoe, Baobao Zhang and Owain Evans; Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University, AI Impacts, Department of Political Science, Yale University; 30.05.2017

[2] Outlook on Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise 2018, presented by Narrative Science in partnership with the National Business Research Institute