Put simply, AI refers to machines and computer systems that are capable of performing tasks that require human intelligence, and perform them as well as, or better and faster than humans. This can include tasks such as speech recognition, visual perception, translation between languages, understanding natural language, and decision making.
One of the most common types of AI is machine learning, where computers learn from data. We often hear the term algorithm, but what exactly is it? A machine algorithm is a set of rules that a machine can execute. The algorithms use mathematical models to analyze large datasets and look for patterns and relationships between different variables. The algorithms can learn from the data and overtime they can become more accurate at predicting new data, without being explicitly programmed to do so.
A lot of AI nowadays is trained on data that come from humans, most notably language models, where computers are being trained to understand and produce human language. ChatGPT by OpenAI, a language model which interacts in a conversational way, has recently become a topic of great excitement. In fact, we asked ChatGPT itself to explain what it is using simple words and here is what it came back with: "It (ChatGPT) uses advanced machine learning algorithms to generate human-like text responses to questions or prompts given to it. Essentially, it is a program that can respond to questions and hold conversations with people, like a virtual assistant or customer service representative." Needless to say that ChatGPT, albeit not yet perfect, has opened the door to many exciting possibilities and applications.
AI is already integrated in our everyday lives, but it may be the case that on many occasions we may not be aware of it. If you have ever used, for example, Google Maps to reach a destination, then you are already using a product where AI is a critical component of what makes it so successful. Google Maps' machine learning model is trained on two sets of data: information that comes from phones that use Google Maps to determine speed along a route and information from routes driven with Google Maps when projected on the car's display. This enables Google to suggest alternative routes when traffic conditions in one route may not be optimal saving us a lot of time from being stuck in a traffic jam. You're surely aware of Siri, Apple's virtual assistant for devices such as the iPhone. Siri was one of the first voice recognition and natural language processing technologies powered by AI that appeared in the market.
Robotics is probably one of the most well-known applications of AI. Robots can use AI algorithms to make decisions, plan movements, and perform tasks. Robots have played a significant role during the Covid-19 pandemic where it was not possible for healthcare professionals to provide care to patients without exposing themselves to danger. They were commissioned to disinfect the air and surfaces, to monitor patient condition, and bring them food and medication.
In recent years, the advancements in machine learning algorithms and deep learning, the availability of a growing datasets to train the models, the proliferation of cloud computing, faster connectivity and faster hardware, have also led to advancements in generative AI. Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new data such as, for example, using a texual description to create a digital image. ChatGPT and DALL-E are two examples of generative AI.
As a matter of fact, the image that you see here is created using DALL-E, an AI-powered system created by OpenAI that leverages deep learning models to generate images from natural language descriptions. We asked DALL-E to create an image in stained glass style for this article that shows a futuristic concept of AI facing a real human.
In conclusion, when thinking about the potential of AI in transforming how we live and work, we are just scratching the surface. Albeit the challenges that need to be addressed, AI will become an increasingly important part of our lives in the coming years. It is essential that we understand the basics of this technology and its impact and application in our lives and work.
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