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The Artificial Intelligence revolution: where we are and how to get involved

22nd November 2017 Posted by: Duncan Chisholm - Editor

IF many of us were honest, we would probably admit that we weren’t sure about what exactly Artificial Intelligence is. And if you’re not able to define something, then it becomes impossible to identify whether it is something which you come into contact with every day. The definition of Artificial Intelligence is as broad as the spectrum of ways in which it has already begun to have an impact on our lives, as we’ll see.

But what is it? It’s the copying of intelligent human behaviour by machines, which is a deceptively simple way of defining a booming area of technological development which has multiple effects on our lives now. This area is also guaranteed to have a huge influence on our lives in future.  

So if you shop using Amazon’s Alexa, watch television using Netflix or organise your life using Apple’s Siri, then your life is already being influenced and perhaps improved by Artificial Intelligence. At the heart of Alexa and Siri is voice-recognition technology, constantly adjusting with the aim of providing a frictionless interactive experience while you shop or organise your life with the aid of those companies’ respective devices.  

It’s also present in less noticeable but seemingly ubiquitous technologies present in all our lives: “ANI is already in use all over the place,” according to Diamond Inc., and “It’s in the anti-lock brakes on our car systems, powers Google, drives spam filters, powers autopilot, and is the key behind the music service Pandora and knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha. When you play scrabble against ‘the computer’, that’s ANI at work.”

So now that we can see how AI is already changing our lives, is the power of the current technology at the very cutting edge and are these services the most powerful we can expect AI to be in future? Actually, AI is very much in its infancy in terms of overall development towards its potential.

The AI which we use now through Alexa, for example, may be able to answer questions and organise for us to some extent but it is nowhere near being able to do anything further than what we programme it to do. The level of AI found in systems such as Alexa is known as ‘Artificial Narrow Intelligence’, which is nowhere near what AI experts believe is the potential of this area of technology. 

According to Diamond Inc., experts are now “striving towards is the creation of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), programs that will be able to reason, plan, and handle complex concepts, and then Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), programs that are smarter than all of the collective minds on earth. AGI will be able to think at the scale and speed of one human brain, but ASI will be that times the human population of Earth — 7.3 billion.”

The implication of that timeline is surely mind-blowing: at the point of achieving ASI, the intelligence of a machine with this capability is theoretically the same as the brain power of the Earth’s entire population. This level of capability has such a huge potential for impact that it has split opinions among usually enthusiastic tech figures such as Tesla boss Elon Musk and Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

But aside from debates about the rights and wrongs of the effects upon us from a destination we are nowhere near reaching, it’s clear that for students a whole new growing area of industry demands new skills and enthusiastic graduates to help keep the revolution moving. Some higher education providers, such as the Cork Institute of Technology, are embracing the explosive growth in demand for AI skills among graduates.

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) now offers a MSc course specialising in Artificial Intelligence because CIT have noticed that, “Advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) are having a profound impact on a wide range of industries including manufacturing, transport, logistics, marketing, commerce, customer service, agriculture, IT, security and health care, to name but a few.” 

CIT, which is now over a hundred years old having been founded in 1912, now seems to be one among only a handful of institutions which are embracing a fascinating new development in technology which has the potential to change the face of society and is offering postgraduate places from September 2018. 


This editorial was sponsored by Cork Institute of Technology, to find out more about their courses take a look at their profile.





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