What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science, where algorithms with certain sets of rules can simulate human intelligence are implemented in machines to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. AI systems can learn through the repetition of tasks where computer data is fed into the system.1
Today, AI is used for anything from search engines, online shopping and advertising and cybersecurity to self-driving cars and even use of thermal imaging to combat Covid-19!2
When did AI begin?
For anyone who doesn’t know much about Artificial Intelligence, it might seem like a pretty invention. However, the idea of amplifying people’s own knowledge and understanding has been around since much longer, developing into the term AI first being coined by John Mcarthy in 1956 when he held an academic conference on AI. “Five years later Alan Turing wrote a paper on the notion of machines being able to simulate human beings and the ability to do intelligent things, such as play Chess [Turing50].”3
How did AI develop?
From 1957 to 1974, AI was beginning to flourish as computers stored more information and became cheaper, faster, and more accessible. Leading researchers (namely attendees of the DSPRIA) convinced government agencies such as the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPIA) to fund AI research through institutions and machine learning algorithms improved and people improved at applying the correct algorithm to a problem.
However, there was still a long way to go from the 1970s before AI became the natural language processing, abstract learning, and self-recognition technology that it is today. One of the biggest reasons AI didn’t develop to what it is today sooner, was due to the lack of computer data storage; computers couldn’t store enough information or process information fast enough to be able to process and develop AI. By the 1990s, despite lack of funding during the time, public hype and increased computational storage and power meant that many landmark goals of AI were being achieved!4
What is AI being used for today?
AI analyses all available data sources, while constantly evolving and improving, to provide users with results that are as accurate and relevant as possible.5
AI powered ad tools can detect patterns in advertising data in seconds and predict what changes to campaigns might improve views and purchases against key performance indexes.6
AI uses security tools to analyse data from millions of cyber incidents and use it to identify potential threats from employees clicking on phishing emails to finding new variants of malware.7
Self-driving cars monitor their environment and manoeuvre themselves with little to no human intervention by using many sensors, including cameras, lasers and even sonar. The sensors create a map of the car’s surroundings and sends the information to the artificial intelligence software encoded in the vehicle’s computer. After being processed through algorithms, the car can perform many functions, including stop.8
Healthcare and government institutions have been able to utilise AI to produce machine-learning chatbots for contactless screening of Covid-19 symptoms and to answer questions from the public, which reduces the strain on government resources.9
Another way that AI has been used to combat Covid-19 was by a company called BlueDot’s early prediction of Covid-19. “On December 31, 2019, a health-monitoring company based in Canada called “BlueDot” alerted its customers to an outbreak of a new pneumonia-like disease originating from the Wuhan Province in China. This announcement was made seven days earlier than the official alert from ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND COVID-19: APPLICATIONS AND IMPACT ASSESSMENT 17 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more than 10 days before the warning coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) (Neiiler, 2020). What made BlueDot’s early announcement particularly remarkable was that it was made possible by the automated analysis of large amounts of data—both health-related and non-health-related— using AI techniques to predict both the outbreak of the disease and the way it would spread. BlueDot predicted correctly the few cities where the virus would be detected next.”10
1 Tathagata Das. (2021). What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?. Available: https://tech4fresher.com/what-is-artificial-intelligence-ai/ . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
2 European Parliament . (2021). What is artificial intelligence and how is it used?. Available: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20200827STO85804/what-is-artificial-intelligence-and-how-is-it-used#:~:text=AI%20in%20everyday%20life%201%20Online%20shopping%20and,intelligenc . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
3 University of Washington. (2006). The History of Artificial Intelligence. Available: https://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep590/06au/projects/history-ai.pdf . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
4 Harvard University. (2017). The History of Artificial Intelligence. Available: https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/history-artificial-intelligence/?web=1&wdLOR=cF0EAD960-AA9C-4578-A88F-58E968A819DB . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
5 SaM Solutions. (2019). AI-Powered Search and Recommendation Technologies: an Overview. Available: https://www.sam-solutions.com/blog/ai-powered-search-and-recommendation-technologies/ . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
6 Mike Kaput. (2021). Artificial Intelligence In Advertising . Available: https://www.marketingaiinstitute.com/blog/ai-in-advertising . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
7 Danny Palmer. (2020). AI is changing everything about cybersecurity, for better and for worse. Here’s what you need to know. Available: https://www.zdnet.com/article/ai-is-changing-everything-about-cybersecurity-for-better-and-for-worse-heres-what-you-need-to-know/ . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
8 Face X. (Anon). Artificial Intelligence in Self-Driving Cars. Available: https://facex.io/blog/artificial-intelligence-in-self-driving-cars/ . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
9 Swami Sivasubramanian. (2020). How AI and machine learning are helping to fight COVID-19. Available: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/how-ai-and-machine-learning-are-helping-to-fight-covid-19/ . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.
10 AAAS. (2021). Artificial Intelligence and Covid-19: Applications and Impact Assessment. Available: https://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/2021-05/AIandCOVID19_2021_FINAL.pdf . Last accessed 8th Oct 2021.