Life style has been drastically changed by the intelligent humans in developing various technological related innovations. From wheels to engines to computers, all such innovative technologies have contributed in shaping today’s world. What will be the next? The smart gadgets, intelligent machines, and robots are now becoming the important aspect and are therefore changing human life. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
AI is an area of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines that can perform tasks like human brains or even better than that. AI is across-domain technology of different branches like machine learning, pattern recognition, logic and probability theory, biologically motivated approaches such as neural networks, evolutionary computing or fuzzy modeling, and the like. Using these approaches different types of basic functions are attained by the AI technology. A few examples include learning, reasoning, classification, prediction, problem-solving, language comprehension, hypothesis generation, and the list is endless. The industrial revolution and World Wars I and II led to the great advances in technology. In 1948, British mathematician Alan Turing in his Intelligent Machinery wrote “My contention is that machine can be constructed, which will simulate the behavior of the human mind very closely”. The American-born British neurophysiologist and robotician William Grey Walter created the first ever robot named Elmer and Elsie, was called as tortoises because of their slow movement. They possessed the ability to move in the direction of light. But the term artificial intelligence was first coined by American computer scientist pioneer and inventor John McCarthy in 1956 at Darmouth Conference of Stanford University. And a race started to build a machine with general intelligence compared to that of human beings.
Despite many efforts being put by the scientific community, the quest for AI appeared was to be in danger by early 1970s as there were no satisfactory advancements despite heavy investments by the governments. In 1980s the AI took a different turn into a specific business solution. Rather than creating a machine with general intelligence a system was created for performing a pre-decided set of tasks. Digital Equipment Corporation was one of the few organizations to realize the benefit of AI. But such kinds of expert systems were not comparable to that of biological intelligence of humans/animals. In 1990, Australian roboticist Rodney Brooks published a paper “Elephant don’t play chess”. He argued that pre-programming of machine with intelligent instructions to attain the desired task was a wrong attempt, and he called for an approach known as ‘Behavior-based’ approach that helped in creating more intelligent robots.
Since then, AI has travelled a long way. Smart phones, intelligent gadgets, drones, robots, and satellites are some of the daily life examples of intelligent machines. But are these the only applications of such an intelligent technology? The answer is obviously no. The applications of AI are numerous and the technology has also started challenging humans in many spheres.
Gaming-In gaming, the most common use of AI is to create a non-player character or a machine player. The machine player uses a pre-set of instructions to play with the human player. But with the machine learning techniques, the machine player can learn from its previous experiences and can improvise its performance in next rounds.
Speech recognition-Every one of us must be watching the advertisements of Google and other companies that ask you to speak on the mobile and it will answer you. That is speech recognition. With machine learning abilities, the search engines are able to provide you the best results. Many advanced countries have now replaced the keyboards for flight information and uses the speech recognition of flight numbers and city names. This capability can also be used to dictate instructions to the computers.
Manufacturing-Almost all manufacturing units now use machines, which are getting automated, thereby reducing the time and cost involved in the production of goods.
Finance-There are multiple uses of AI in finances. It is employed by banks to ensure secure transactions and to prevent frauds. AI is also used to process and understand the large data that is generated in the finances process, enabling the quick data processing and understanding.
Transportation-AI is also changing the ways we use transportation. Online maps are now available that show us the route to our destination. They even suggest the shortest way and make us aware of the potential road jams. Driverless cars/trucks are also hitting the roads. It may not be far when driver-less cars become a common sight on the roads. The surcharge fares during rush hours charged by mobile app cabs are also an example of use of AI technology.
Military-AI is being used to reduce the loss of life during wars. Intelligent weapons are already in place. Intelligent soldier robots are under research that can be used instead of human soldiers. Drones and smart vehicles are already being used by the military.
Healthcare-Health care is one of the most active industries that use AI. Some of the health care applications in diagnosis like MRI, CT scan and ultrasound are some of the most commonly used image-based diagnostic tools. Robot Assisted Surgery similar to mechanical workshops, where robots are being deployed to perform surgeries also. Robot assistance in surgeries has also made it possible to do surgeries with minimal penetration and high precision. This has resulted in faster recoveries, shorter hospital stays and less pain. In the development of Drug that used to be a very tedious and long process which used to take about 20 years for a drug to come to market after passing through all the phases. But with the help of AI, drug development is becoming much easier and less time-consuming. Apart from the above, AI is also being deployed in providing nursing assistance, hospital management, laboratory works etc.
Education-Complementing class teaching is one of the applications of AI in education. Different students have different progress rates. And teachers find it hard to deal with the individual educational needs of their students. Machine learning algorithms have been developed that provide insights and help teachers to identify gaps in their teachings and point where student are struggling.
Scientist robots-In 2009, scientists from the University of Cambridge created a robot scientist named Adam. The robot was created to perform end–to-end activity involved in research without any human intervention. The robot had worked on the baker’s yeast. Using AI it has predicted that there are some specific genes involved in catalyzing biochemical reaction.
AI has made decision-making easier than never before. It is reducing human errors and increasing efficiency in the process. It is helping a dumb to speak and helping a paralyzed person to express his/her thoughts. But with all these positives aspects of the technology, there is a serious debate associated with AI. For example, technological advancements have always led to the human job threats. And AI poses major threat like never before. Recently many IT companies have been firing thousands of their employees as a result of introduction of advance technologies that no longer need human professionals. Apart from jobs risks, there is more serious question. If the robots become smarter than humans, can they eliminate human race? As Stephen Hawking had said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
Peer Javeed Iqbal works at IGNOU Regional Centre Srinagar, has expertise in Cyber Law and Information Security. He teaches computer science students in IGNOU.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.