What’s it: Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability to acquire and apply human-like knowledge and skills. This intelligence is not done by humans but by artificial machines or technology. Experts program these machines to mimic human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning from experience, and problem-solving.
Artificial intelligence involves various disciplines. It doesn’t just rely on computer science, statistics, etc. But, it also requires other fields, depending on where it is applied, for example, psychology (cognitive modeling) and philosophy (philosophy of mind).
Examples of artificial intelligence and its applications
Artificial intelligence continues to grow rapidly. The areas where it is applied have expanded, ranging from retail, banking, and health care to automotive. The logistics, entertainment, and manufacturing sectors have also started implementing it.
Today, AI has become a significant driving force for technological transformation. Many companies adopt it to empower decision-making, drive efficiency, and improve customer experience.
An early development example is a chess-playing computer system. In fact, it can beat human players. An example is Deep Blue, which won against world chess champion Garry Kasparov on May 11, 1997.
Another example is an expert system. This is a further development. This system utilizes computers to codify experts in a particular field. The system stores, organizes and retrieves information and stores knowledge and experience.
So, when we ask questions to the system, it will give answers like these experts. In other words, it will work as if it were an expert.
Expert systems have many applications. It performs various tasks, such as analyzing company results, reviewing loan applications, buying stocks, medical diagnoses, identifying poisons, etc.
Apart from codifying experts, the system can also create new knowledge by extrapolating data and patterns. The Google search engine is an example. Google can recognize our online habits and interpret queries in search engines. Then, the system sends a personalized ad tailored to what we were looking for earlier.
Another example is Google Translate. The first time it was launched, it gave relatively clumsy translation results.
Google Translate allows us to provide feedback on the correct translation. Then, Google’s engine stores and builds algorithms with it, along with other sources. Now, Google Translate results are better than ever.
Developers build robots and program them to react to sensory stimuli and respond accordingly. They act as if they were human. Therefore, robotics techniques are often applied to specific fields to replace humans in carrying out tasks.
For example, car manufacturers use robots on their assembly lines. Robots replace human hands to perform tasks.
Unlike humans, robots can work tirelessly without rest, making them more productive than humans. In addition, their precision is measured, resulting in consistent quality.
Weak AI vs. Strong AI
There are two categories of AI, namely Weak and Strong AI. Weak AI is designed for a specific task. Apple’s Siri and other virtual personal assistants are an example.
Meanwhile, Strong AI has general human cognitive abilities. Strong AI systems can find solutions when presented with specific tasks without human intervention.
Types of artificial intelligence
Arend Hintze categorizes AI into 4 types. They are:
- Reactive machines
- Limited memory
- Theory of mind
Reactive machines. Deep Blue is an example. The reactive engine identifies pieces on the chessboard, makes predictions, and analyzes the opponent’s possible moves. It also identifies and takes the most strategic steps.
But, it has no memory and stores information. Thus, the machine cannot use past experience to tell the next step.
Limited memory. It uses past experiences to inform future decisions. However, the information is not stored permanently.
Its application in self-driving cars is an example. Some of its functions use a limited memory system.
Theory of mind. This AI system is complex compared to the previous two types. The system does not only represent actual conditions. But it also has its own beliefs, desires, and intentions to influence its decisions.
Self-awareness. It is designed to have a sense of self and awareness. It works like a human. For example, the system understands and uses the current situation to infer how others feel.
Pros and cons of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence contributes positively to business. For example, its adoption saves labor and increases productivity through automation. Other benefits are:
Deliver consistent results and high-precision output, just as robotic machines do in manufacturing
- Increase customer satisfaction through personalization in product development, promotion, and advertising
- Reduce time for data-driven, real-time tasks, such as using AI to detect spam or process loan applications.
- Replacing humans in serving customers 24 hours, such as in question-and-answer bots
But, embracing AI is costly. In addition, exploiting it to its fullest requires deep technical expertise. Those who are skilled are also still very limited, and thus, it is costly to recruit them. Also, AI has other limitations or cons for businesses:
- Not able to generalize from one task to another and only performs specific tasks
- Does not have an emotional bond with the customer, which is usually formed through human-to-human interaction
- Threats to business, such as vulnerabilities to information security and disruption of business models
Artificial intelligence controversy
Rapidly evolving technology and knowledge are important driving factors for artificial intelligence. In the past, we may have seen a basic function computing engine, a graphics simulator, and a text recognition engine as artificial intelligence.
However, over time, this view has changed. Such functions are now embedded in the latest computers and are commonly used.
Artificial intelligence is under scrutiny from scientists and society. It was criticized by various parties for several reasons.
First, machines will become very advanced, and humans will be unable to keep up. This view is a common reason to criticize AI. AI systems will take off, redesigning themselves exponentially and threatening human existence.
Second, privacy threats and cyber crimes are increasing. Criminals exploit it to hack into people’s privacy and even weaponize it.
Third, other arguments argue about ethics. Even though it has a mind and works like a human, AI may not or, until now, does not have emotions and feelings like humans. So, should we treat intelligent systems like robots with the same rights as humans?