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The past few years have seen a lot of commotion around the term Artificial Intelligence, or what is fondly called,the AI. Alexa and Siri alongwith ‘OK Google’, have become household names, enabling the commonest of the lot to derive the pleasure of bossing over a secretary, albeit a virtual one. Popular Netflix shows such as Black Mirror, has some of us buying the idea of living eternally in the form of a conscious robot. The fascinating ideas which were once only a part of the Sci-fi movies have served as an inspiration to make AI, a living reality. We only dread of a time when the ‘terminator’ will replace the police force and ‘Skynet’ will pose a threat to human existence!

So what exactly is this Artificial intelligence?

According to Wikipedia, “Artificial intelligence, also called machine intelligence, is the intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.” Artificial intelligence provides intelligence to the machines in a way that they can mimic conscious behaviour like humans. AI enables machines to ‘learn’, ‘remember’ and ‘solve problems’.

If somebody denies that computers have had a major role in defining the world we live in today, then they have clearly been living under a rock. There’s a presence of a computer in almost every if not all sorts of businesses and industries today. These computers have been automating much of the work and reducing much of the errors and mistakes to dust, which was impossible back in the days. Once programmed, a software has the ability to run and work on it’s own without experience fatigue or committing mistakes. But here’s the catch! Computers cannot distinguish between right and wrong and do only what is asked of them or rather coded into them. Here’s when AI comes into the picture. It has a mind of its own enabling AI to perform actions based on the acquired knowledge and information it can process. The purpose of AI is to minimize human intervention.

Elements of Artificial Intelligence

AI automates repetitive learning and discovery through data. It runs on revolutionary technologies such as “natural language processing,” “deep learning,” “neural networking” and “predictive analytics”, which enable computer systems to understand the human language, learn from experience, establish associations and make predictions. Machine learning, which is another application of AI, provides computer systems with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. This enables the system to analyse data and make predictions based on trends. For example, suggesting videos based on your previous watched trend, providing the best route for your destination among multiple routes, or automatically playing the next song on your playlist to suit your mood. Machine learning is being applied to healthcare, pharma, and life sciences industries to aid disease diagnosis, medical image interpretation, and accelerate drug development. Deep learning involves speech recognition, which enables the voice assistant applications in your phones to understand questions like, “Ok Google, Tell me a joke!” Natural Language Processing or NLP, allows machines to recognise and reproduce human speech such as in a Whatsapp keyboard speech to word convertor or your amazon fire stick which understands your language without you having to type.

Why AI matters?

Science today is all about augmenting our everyday lives. From commercial applications such as booking a cab for you, and reading you a poem, to ground breaking applications such as diagnosing a disease, operating with sophisticated precision and travelling in space, AI can do anything and everything which humans can’t or rather, won’t. With countless applications and uses, this revolutionary technology is here to stay and flourish. There would come a time when AI will program itself and build other AI machines. As such, we should brace ourselves for a rapid paradigm shift!

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