AI is everywhere!

Whether you’re in tech or just researching a product or service, you are bound to come across the acronym every now and then. So what does it mean and why the hype?

In technology and computer terms, AI stands for Artificial Intelligence.

It’s the biggest technology advancement right now and it’s transforming the way we do business, work, and live.

As a result, demand for AI professionals is already very high and also growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, the field is predicted to generate 133 million new jobs by the year 2022!

This is definitely one of the best fields of computer science to pursue. And as artificial intelligence continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, I think everyone should have a basic understanding of AI and its implications in our lives.

In this post, you will discover what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is, its applications, and what AI concepts such as machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks mean.

You will also find recommendations of the best AI courses and books to look into if you’d like to dive deeper into the world of AI.  

What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence refers to the intelligence demonstrated by a manmade entity such as a computer system, a robot, or a product.

An AI system can accomplish tasks that usually require human intelligence.

The term also refers to the set of algorithms designed to mimic human intelligence.

It’s also a branch of computer system that entails building intelligent systems or machines that can replicate or simulate human intelligence.

The phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was coined  by John McCarthy in 1956 during the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence.

This conference is considered to be the birth of the field of artificial intelligence.

Sub Domains of Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is the technology that powers Artificial Intelligence systems.

Machine Learning systems learn and improve by studying the training data fed to them and their output.

The models are then able to complete tasks without requiring explicit instructions.

Deep Learning

Deep Learning is a machine learning technique that imitates how our brain works.

It makes use of a neural network architecture that’s inspired by the human neural cells.

A neural network is a series of algorithms that process very large data sets and make connections as a human brain does.

This allows the machine to go “deep” in its learning by recognizing patterns.

What is Weak vs Strong vs Super AI?

As you can probably imagine, these terms refer to the level of intelligence an AI entity possesses.

Narrow AI

Also referred to as Weak AI, Narrow AI focuses on being really good at a specific task.

It’s designed and trained to accomplish a narrowly defined task.

Examples include making personalized product recommendations and predicting the weather.

Personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa and industrial robots are also examples of narrow AI.

Currently, this is the only category of AI that exists in real life.

And thanks to their computational prowess and superior ability to recognize patterns, Narrow AI system have gotten really good, even surpassing human capability in some tasks.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

The next level of artificial intelligence is AGI or strong AI.

A machine with AGI would be the equivalent of the human brain, complete with the full set of cognitive abilities like continuous learning and self correction, reasoning, and communicating effectively.

It would be capable of thinking and acting like a human being and thinking and acting rationally.

Such a system would be composed of thousands of Artificial Narrow Intelligence systems working together to reason the way we do.  

Unfortunately, this category of AI is yet to be realized. Even the most advanced AI systems only follow predefined processes.

Replicating the human brain has proven next to impossible given how rich and complex individual neurons are, and how inadequate our computing resources are currently.

We only encounter this type of Artificial Intelligence in science fiction movies that feature advanced robotics.

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

An ASI entity would surpass all human capabilities including rational thinking, decision making, problem solving, making art, and even building and sustaining emotional relationships.

Applications of AI

AI has permeated every industry from finance and banking, e-commerce, retail, agriculture, media, gaming, research, space exploration, transportation, automotive, medicine, manufacturing, security, to and many more.

Organizations are taking advantage of AI driven systems to improve efficiency, automate resource-intensive tasks, and make data-driven decisions.

Some of the applications of AI tools and technologies include:

  • Natural Language Processing has applications in spam detection, translation, customer service, sentiment analysis, and speech recognition.
  • Computer Vision is used in self driving cars, security systems, medical diagnostics, and agriculture.
  • Expert Systems are applied in medical diagnosis, gaming, accounting, and coding.
  • Robotic Process Automation is used to improve the efficiency of business processes and automate tasks.
  • Search and recommendation engines such as Google Search and Netflix recommendations.

Where AI Exists Today

But it isn’t just businesses that are experiencing the effect of Artificial Intelligence.

AI has already paved its way into our daily lives, transforming the way we work and play.

Here are some of the examples of AI in our personal and home life:

  • Smart personal assistants like Siri and Alexa
  • TV show recommendations on Netflix
  • Facial recognition feature on our smart phones
  • Google Maps
  • Voice-to-text apps
  • Ride-sharing apps such as Uber
  • Spam filters on email
  • Self-driving cars
  • Smart home appliances
  • Plagiarism checkers
  • Wearable devices such as smartwatches

What is the Goal of AI?

There’s no doubt that computers and the internet have revolutionized our lives, for the better.

The quest for AI is aimed at making our lives even better and more enjoyable.

AI will accomplish this by aiding human capabilities.

As an efficient data processing system, AI has the ability to make processes faster, better, and more accurate.

AI also has the potential to expand human capability beyond what we can imagine.

A computer can already process large amount of data at super speed.

Paired with human intelligence, it can do extraordinary things and solve even the most complex problems in the world.

Furthermore, AI systems offer the following advantages:

  • 24×7 availability
  • Ability to make decisions faster
  • Eliminating or reducing human error
  • Performing repetitive tasks efficiently
  • Driving new inventions

The Future of AI

Without doubt, the future of AI is brilliant.

First off, narrow artificial intelligence is getting smarter by leaps and bounds. It will continue to get better at executing specific tasks.

AI will also remain the main driver of state of the art technologies like big data, quantum science, robotics, and Internet of Things (IoT) and will continue to fuel innovations in the foreseeable future.

As for what next in the field, AI researchers are working hard to create a genuinely intelligent AI with a human like mind.

AI enthusiasts are hopeful that General Artificial Intelligence will become a reality within the current century.

Is AI dangerous?

Currently, AI is not dangerous. The current implementations of AI are weak and only serve to improve products and services.

The concept of an artificial super-intelligence that far surpasses the human brain and even threatens humanity remains within the realm of science fiction.

AI isn’t about to take over the world and overthrow humanity anytime soon.

Further Reading Best Courses and Books

Would you like to delve deeper into AI and related technologies?

Here are the top Artificial Intelligence books and courses to help you gain a better understanding of the field.

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach is the definitive book about AI. Many consider it to be the AI Bible.

It’s packed with every possible thing you might want to know from the evolution of AI to the subdomains.

Written and edited by pioneers in the field, it’s an exemplary introduction into both the theory and practice of Artificial Intelligence

A logical organization and clear explanations make the content easy to grasp. Indeed the best book on AI. The only bummer is that the quality of the paper is dismal.

Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction

A non-technical intro to AI, Artificial Intelligence Basics breaks down the topic in an easy to understand language.

An entertaining read and very well organized. Plus it’s application oriented with plenty of real life case studies to illustrate the concepts.

Great for managers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else interested in the field.

The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do

Whether you believe Artificial General Intelligence is just around the corner or have serious doubts about its viability, The Myth of Artificial Intelligence is an essential read.

It will help you treat AI with a health dose of realism and skepticism. It illuminates the gap between the actual science underlying AI and the quest for human-equivalent artificial intelligence .

Despite the title, the book isn’t out to tear down AI. It just shows the true story behind AI. In fact, it offers one of the best overview of the history of Artificial Intelligence and the current state of affairs.

AI and Machine Learning for Coders: A Programmer’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence

If you’re already a coder looking to get into AI, AI and Machine Learning for Coders will get you up and running quickly with building ML and AI models for mobile, browser, and cloud applications.

The book provides some of the clearest explanations of tough AI and ML concepts and takes a hands on, code first approach that will have you incorporating AI in your work quickly. It’s one of the top rated machine learning books.

Artificial Intelligence A-Z™: Learn How To Build An AI

Artificial Intelligence A-Z™ will get you up to speed with all things AI from machine learning, deep learning, to data science.

Best of all, you will get to code real AI systems including a virtual autonomous car and a game playing AI. Even if you have no prior coding experience!

An excellent way to learn about Artificial Intelligence and build up your intuition when it comes to coding AI programs.

AI For Everyone

AI For Everyone is the perfect course to take if you’d like to dive into AI from a non-technical background. It does an amazing job of simplifying AI in a way anyone can understand.

It explains Artificial Intelligence concepts in simple English. And explores the impact AI will have on our jobs and personal lives.

The presentation is outstanding – well organized and interactive, making the book fun and easy to read.

To Wrap Up

Artificial Intelligence is one of the greatest advances in technology yet. However, we still have a long way to go to realize the full potential of AI.

While the concept of AI originates in the ancient times, we have only managed to make narrow AI a reality.

On the bright side, the future holds immense scope and we’ve a lot to look forward to.