Cars are driving on their own, assistants live in our phones and computers are becoming voices on the internet. All this due to a seemingly simple but extremely complex computer technology called Artificial Intelligence that will soon be a part and parcel of our lives.
Every generation since the 19th century has had a revolutionary breakthrough in Technology starting with the invention of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. The biggest revolution the tech community has seen till now was in the later part of the 20th century called the Internet, a revolution that would ultimately shape the future itself. When asked about the next ‘big thing’, there is a chorus of voices screaming the same thing, Artificial Intelligence.
Greg Estes, Vice President of NVIDIA’s developers programs while announcing NVIDIA’s intent to train 100,000 developers on AI said, “AI is the defining technology of our generation,” and he couldn’t have been more right about it. AI is taking over the world while it is still just toddling. Although you may not know it yet, AI has already become an indispensable part of our lives. It is present in every field and is doing us a lot of good too.
You know those suggestions you get on Facebook or Soundcloud? That is AI doing its job. Even your shopping apps employ AI to predict and assess your shopping to provide an easier experience. Smartphones are getting smarter with AI assistants and healthcare has probably received the biggest boost from AI.
“ We have only begun to tap into all the ways AI will make people’s lives more productive and creative ” -Bill Gates
AI is already used in diagnosis and simulations of treatment but is going to be soon used for treatments itself. Robotics, which is built around AI is soon going to be in hospitals and is already an inseparable part of Manufacturing.
The AI’s potential in the future is driving people towards it. “Nothing I have ever seen matches the potential of AI and cognitive computing to change the world,” said Bernard Schölkopf, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. Imagine a time where you have to just tell your phone what you want done and it does it for you, whether you want your car ready downstairs or your AC switched on in your house that is miles away from the Air conditioned cabin in your office. That is the future seen by AI developers.
The tech is still in its infancy. While it already has varied applications in almost every field imaginable, it is still a toddler which is being taught to walk and is nowhere near its full potential. It can only do bits and pieces of what it is truly capable of, but in the future it is going to shape the very way we live our lives.
Ray Kurzweil is an American computer scientist who is considered a genius in the field of AI. Being the first to invent an optical scanner, he had predicted the AI rush we see today almost 2 decades ago. “A kid in Africa with a Smartphone has more intelligent access to knowledge than the President of the United States had 20 years ago. As AI continues to get smarter, its use will only grow. Virtually everyone’s mental capabilities will be enhanced by it within a decade,” he said.
AI already resides in our phone, constantly receiving data and learning, in the future it will be present in every connected device in the world and that’s a lot. According to the IDC, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world and all of them, partially or completely will be connected to an AI computer that collects, analyze data and learns from it.
“Things like computer vision are starting to work; speech recognition is starting to work There’s quite a bit of acceleration in the development of AI systems,” said Bart Selman, a Cornell professor and AI ethicist. AI is growing at an alarming rate; it will be exactly what the internet
was to the 20th century, a technological revolution so huge that it will be hard to comprehend the full extent of its capabilities. It is predicted that (again by an AI driven supercomputer), by 2020 it will be an industry worth $70 billion.
If all this is scaring you then it’s all right since you are not the only one. While the whole world is going gwang-ho about the AI rush, there are a few who have been concerned with what an AI driven future may hold. Elon Musk, for one is positively terrified of what the AI will be capable of in the future and is constantly prattling on about an AI apocalypse in the future. Stephen Hawking also is one of the dominant voices against the development of and had declared it to be “a dangerous technology that will mean the end of mankind,” as early as 2003.
“ With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like, yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out” -Elon Musk
Elon Musk is very serious about this and has taken it a step further. He believes that to beat AI, humans themselves must become smarter and is striving to achieve what nobody else has, merge the human brain and a computer to enhance our capabilities. For that very purpose, Musk founded Neuralink, company striving to achieve his dreams of creating super humans. But his fears are far from being real. The AI software that exists today needs to be continuously fed data and trained, even for a specific purpose and is far from being the self evolving software that Musk fears.
One thing is for certain. AI technology is just over the horizon and is definitely the next revolution the tech world is waiting for. Hopefully it won’t be the Killing machine some people are predicting it to be and will lead us to an exciting and of course, a better future.