srikrishna   May 15, 2018

Why is AI a big deal? Should I care about it?

Computational machines offer speed and accessibility to a variety of daily chores. The missing link has always been intelligence. Ranging between smart search to optimizing resources, AI can solve problems wherever data-based decisions are involved. By knowing when you will access what applications and for how long, your device can free up some memory to allow a smooth experience. Knowing what emails are relevant to you, what movies should you watch, what car should you buy, when should you visit a doctor, how can you manage your finances and what else can you do in your ‘free time’? this list could just go forever. Further, if you did not notice the previous sentence did not have a verb of its own, so add ‘correcting your grammar’ to that list. So why did we not have all these earlier? The answer is- No idea! But why the heck not now?

Let us take a metaphor of automatic transmission cars compared to a manual transmission. Both of those have their own benefits which you can try out for yourself. Are we to say that automatic cars will replace manual ones? Certainly not, since both are enjoyable in their own unique ways. However, shifting to the top gear and hearing the torque pinch is just as thrilling as whizzing off the signal with a push of a pedal while your co-drivers fiddle with their gears. In essence, AI is for you if you are craving for a magical experience, an alternative to the way you have been doing things.

So how does it work? Data and lots of it. Technically AI is not magic but meticulously planned and Applied Science. When we say Science, we know it means the practice is testable, reproducible, quantifiable and available within the system constraints that define it. A major share of Artificial Intelligence applications nowadays is achieved through Machine Learning. With a large community of open source and peer-reviewed research, conferences, and journals happening around the globe, AI is in safe hands. There is no need to panic as even the giants in Information Technology have embraced AI. So whether you like it or not, AI is here to here to stay, just as much as Helio-Centric theory, Atomic theory, Internet, Smartphones and Big Shaq.

The good news is that scalable AI is only getting started and experts in the field have begun developing refreshing products. Indeed, it is a very good time to be alive as we subconsciously vote on what our future generation get to witness. Believe me, it is easy to get carried away and set out to build an autonomous machine which can turn back time by snapping its fingers. In fact, in a recently proposed paper on Gestational Intelligence- an ever-evolving approach to goal-oriented machines, the author suggests that… Gotchya!

Nothing to worry about! We are nowhere near Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Almost all our solutions these days are only narrow AI, meaning solutions towards closed-ended problems. The reasons why the industry won’t venture into AGI for decades are because of limited funding, lack of clear outcome, risk in maintaining and managing such systems; the best of the reasons being weak research as on date.

Meanwhile, let us enjoy the benefits of a smart revolution and let machines serve us like we always wanted them to!

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