What is AI? What is machine learning and how does it work? You’ve probably heard the buzz. The age of artificial intelligence has arrived. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to wrap your mind around. For the full story on the rise of artificial intelligence, check out The Robot Revolution:
Let’s break down the basics of artificial intelligence, bots, and machine learning. Besides, there’s nothing that will impact marketing more in the next five to ten years than artificial intelligence. Learn what the coming revolution means for your day-to-day work, your business, and ultimately, your customers.
Every day, a large portion of the population is at the mercy of a rising technology, yet few actually understand what it is.
Artificial intelligence. You know, HAL 9000 and Marvin the Paranoid Android?
Thanks to books and movies, each generation has formed its own fantasy of a world ruled — or at least served — by robots. We’ve been conditioned to expect flying cars that steer clear of traffic and robotic maids whipping up our weekday dinner.
But if the age of AI is here, why don’t our lives look more like the Jetsons?
Well, for starters, that’s a cartoon. And really, if you’ve ever browsed Netflix movie suggestions or told Alexa to order a pizza, you’re probably interacting with artificial intelligence more than you realize.
And that’s kind of the point. AI is designed so you don’t realize there’s a computer calling the shots. But that also makes understanding what AI is — and what it’s not — a little complicated.
In basic terms, AI is a broad area of computer science that makes machines seem like they have human intelligence.
So it’s not only programming a computer to drive a car by obeying traffic signals, but it’s when that program also learns to exhibit signs of human-like road rage.
As intimidating as it may seem, this technology isn’t new. Actually, for the past half-a-century, it’s been an idea ahead of its time.
The term “artificial intelligence” was first coined back in 1956 by Dartmouth professor John McCarthy. He called together a group of computer scientists and mathematicians to see if machines could learn like a young child does, using trial and error to develop formal reasoning. The project proposal says they’ll figure out how to make machines “use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”
That was more than 60 years ago.
Since then, AI has remained for the most part in university classrooms and super secret labs … But that’s changing.
Like all exponential curves, it’s hard to tell when a line that’s slowly ticking upwards is going to skyrocket.
But during the past few years, a couple of factors have led to AI becoming the next “big” thing: First, huge amounts of data are being created every minute. In fact, 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. And now thanks to advances in processing speeds, computers can actually make sense of all this information more quickly. Because of this, tech giants and venture capitalists have bought into AI and are infusing the market with cash and new applications.
Very soon, AI will become a little less artificial, and a lot more intelligent.
Now the question is: Should you brace yourself for yet another Terminator movie, live on your city streets?
Not exactly. In fact, stop thinking of robots. When it comes to AI, a robot is nothing more than the shell concealing what’s actually used to power the technology.
That means AI can manifest itself in many different ways. Let’s break down the options…
First, you have your bots. They’re text-based and incredibly powerful, but they have limitations.
Ask a weather bot for the forecast, and it will tell you it’s partly cloudy with a high of 57. But ask that same bot what time it is in Tokyo, and it’ll get a little confused. That’s because the bot’s creator only programmed it to give you the weather by pulling from a specific data source.
Natural language processing makes these bots a bit more sophisticated. When you ask Siri or Cortana where the closest gas station is, it’s really just translating your voice into text, feeding it to a search engine, and reading the answer back in human syntax. So in other words, you don’t have to speak in code.
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