In ancient times, the phenomenon of a convenient life was considered either “supernatural powers” or “magic.” Now we call it “Technology” and the “complex algorithms” to run this technology are its “magic spells”. One of such powerful technologies humans have been working on for the past few decades is “Artificial Intelligence” which is reshaping our lives with its endless magical spells.
Each new technology whether its Desktop Operating Systems, Networking, Mobile Apps, Internet of Things, or cloud computing, had a noteworthy impact on the overall technology outlook during its peak. And now this is the age of “Artificial Intelligence”. The Gartner Hype Cycle published in 1995 has been a constant measure of the hype surrounding evolving technologies. In its 2016 report, numerous AI-driven technologies such as smart Robots, driverless vehicles, NLP, conversational user interfaces, and ML appeared at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.
Today, AI is all-pervasive, shifting from sci-fi imaginations to our everyday lives. If we think back to 1927, when AI was featured in Metropolis for the first time, when even movies were silent, no one had considered the possibility of this technology getting so inclusive and encompassing.
Machines have not yet taken over the world; however, they are deeply penetrating our lives, affecting our lifestyles. Now with Artificial intelligence, most of our routine and business activities are taking place flawlessly. The way AI is getting incorporated into our existence is fascinating. At present, AI is the most prevalent subject widely conversed in technology and business circles. Most of the AI experts and researchers claim that AI is the future of the world – but if we have a look at our surroundings, we must be convinced that it is not just the future, rather it is the present.
According to Sundar Pichai, the CEO at Google, AI is one of the most powerful things humanity is working on. He further states that AI is even more powerful than electricity or fire.
Key factors to determine the power of a technology
There are two key factors considered the most significant determinants for the power or potential of some technology.
The first factor is the “entry barrier” for a developer to create something worthwhile. If the developer is capable to generate or tweak its implementation, the world would witness rapid dispersion of that technology along with many improvements through the involvement of the developer crowd. For instance, Operating systems have a high entry barrier due to the complexity of their software. In general, we don't see a great number of developers investing time to modify an operating system for some specific purpose. On the other hand, Mobile Apps are something easy to develop and publish with limited skills.
The second main factor is “centralized or decentralized development on the core platform” which means that whether a company serves as the gatekeeper for new versions or anyone can contribute to the core platform? In the case of social network space, development is entirely centralized by the owners of the core platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.) as compared with networking where there is an extensively distributed group of contributors.
Technology with a low entry barrier and a decentralized platform development is the most powerful possessing the greatest potential for future impact. None of the technologies that emerged so far possess both of these characteristics except "Artificial Intelligence" where the entry barrier for a developer is low with all the needed tools easily available and the development is also decentralized. Hence, keeping in view both of the above factors, AI is considered the most powerful technology humans have ever worked on.
The most powerful AI solutions changing our daily lives
Let’s discuss the most powerful AI solutions that are reshaping our lives:
Voice assistant is one of the most powerful AI software agents people have ever worked on. It was the early 1960s when the notion of voice assistant was introduced. However, pseudo-intelligent "Siri”, introduced by Apple in 2011 was the first voice assistant that reached a mass audience. Following it, Amazon launched Alexa in 2014 which was another voice assistant reaching the masses. Google Assistant was introduced in May 2016. And now we can find voice assistants everywhere in our lives – home, work, restaurants, cars, etc.
A voice assistant lets us take command with our voice and we interact with it on daily basis. It employs ML technology to get smarted and capable to predict and comprehend our national-language requests. Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and other AI-driven chatbots are capable to do virtually everything from answering our questions, playing music, finding information, giving directions, telling jokes, and helping us in our homes like controlling fans, lights, door locks, etc.
At present, in this highly competitive world, where the companies are trying hard to find innovative technologies to have a competitive edge, AI tools like voice assistants are of great help. This voice technology is not just serving us for our personal needs but is also assisting enterprises on a large scale to ensure a successful business. These voice assistants besides providing the businesses with better consumer insight and offering a personalized customer experience also optimize productivity and reduce the workforce. With the advancements in AI, it is anticipated that voice assistants will be soon running the offices.
With all the power of AI, voice assistants are spreading widely across the globe. In 2018, the number of digital voice assistants in use was 2.5 billion, and this use is projected to increase up to 8 billion by 2023.Thanks to AI, voice assistants are getting smarter over time offering huge personal and business opportunities and are uplifting human lifestyle and businesses to the next level.
AI has been the most debated topic for the last many years on account of being a technological revolution. It offers infinite opportunities to revolutionize technology in each domain, and the automobile industry is not unscathed by AI. The autonomous car is one of the most powerful inventions and is the hotspot in most recent researches. Neural networks are used in driverless cars. These networks replicate the human brain structure and learn from data. The neuron's small subcircuits perform specific tasks such as spotting road signs.
AI is being used in car accessories like sensors, video cameras, etc., to offer maximum comfort to the driver. The AI-driven sensors are used for collision and pedestrian detection, blind-spot, and lane monitoring to find out dangerous situations and hence to make the driver alert before the time. AI-powered algorithms can also detect anomalies. AI is also used to monitor if the driver is sleeping or tired. Furthermore, AI has enabled vehicles to converse with each other, and with traffic signals and road signs.
Today, every progressive car manufacturer is investing huge amounts in self-driven cars. Tesla is at the top of them. Tesla cars have many features such as self-driving, and predictive capabilities and have achieved many accolades. Tesla car is even getting smarter with every passing day.
In short, AI in the automobile industry is continuously changing the way we drive cars. From ensuring driver safety to providing high-tech features, AI is catering to the overall improvement in the automobile industry. The potential of AI in this sector is endless and it is offering enormous opportunities in elevating the driver safety level and his experience, and hence is attracting the interest of startups and the tech giants. By 2030, 95-98% of vehicles are expected to have AI technology.
Whether it is in terms of initial costs or ongoing maintenance, your home embodies a significant investment. Most importantly you spend most of your time in homes, creating memories with your loved ones. The “Smart Thermostat” is one of the most powerful AI technologies used in homes and offices that besides saving money also provides peace of mind. The Nest Learning Thermostat by Google can predict and regulate the temperature in the home or office of the users depending on their needs. It uses behavioral algorithms to identify the heating and cooling needs of the user. In the busy lives of this digital era with a lot of stuff in mind, you don't have to remember to change the temperature of the thermostat when you leave or arrive home. The Nest Learning thermostat does it automatically for you based on your behaviors. The GM at ARS Illinois, Scott Toomey states that a Nest Thermostat can save up to 12% and 15% on heating and cooling bills respectively as reported by the homeowners. With all the power of AI, the smart thermostat is making our lives a little easier and simpler.
Is it just AI-driven software that is getting powerful?
With every passing day, AI solutions are getting more powerful. Each new AI invention is outperforming its predecessor in virtually every sense. The most important thing is it's not just software that is advancing, AI-driven hardware is equally getting more powerful. NVidia, AI-hardware leader, in 2019, demonstrated the Tesla P-100 a chip they profess can perform the tasks of deep learning neural network up to 12 times faster than their earlier best product. NVidia has also developed a powerful supercomputer that is called “the first deep learning supercomputer of the world” and is equipped with eight P100s.
In 2019, Microsoft and Google’s Open AI announced a partnership to develop new AI technologies. In 2020, Microsoft revealed the idea of a supercomputer that would be massively powerful. This system is specially designed to train AI models. The companies believe that this supercomputer will have the ability to create human-like intelligence. Before 1949, computers didn't have the prerequisite for intelligence. They were incapable to store commands or execute them. In short, computers were told what to do but they were unable to memorize what they did. However, with the applications of AI, computers are getting more power, and the time is not far when they will be having human-like intelligence.
Domains where AI is booming with its powerful applications
AI is leveraging our lives with most of its powerful applications. Let's have a look at some of the captivating areas, where AI is proving itself as the most powerful thing in human history so far and is projected to gain even more power in the future:
Before the introduction of AI, the crime control rate was low and it was hard to avoid crimes. Thanks to AI, the crimes now can be reduced or avoided easily as AI has made the crimes relatively more predictable. Just a huge amount of data is needed to identify the patterns helpful for law enforcement. This level of data analysis was not possible a few decades back but crimes are now more under control and predictable. AI enables the identification of the gunfire and its location easily with the help of multiple AI-powered sensors to detect the gunshot sound. Another powerful invention to control crimes is AI-powered security cameras. Hikvision, a Chinese company developing AI security cameras claims a drop of 65% in the crime rate in South Africa after employing their AI-powered security cameras. Further, by analyzing the past crimes, AI can also predict the location and time of a crime and the person who is most expected to commit that crime with the help of facial recognition. AI can not only identify criminals but can also indicate the person who is about to commit a crime.
Agriculture is among the most important and oldest domains across the globe. It is considered the backbone of any country. Agriculture is an industry worth $5 trillion across the globe and by using AI techniques; it is flourishing like never before. The introduction of AI has transformed the way of farming over the millennia. It is helping in yielding healthier crops, controlling pests, monitoring soil conditions, organizing data for farmers, and enhancing numerous agricultural tasks in the food supply chain. In ancient times, when AI was not introduced, the farmers had to rely on intuition and experience to identify the best time for planting crops and sowing seeds. AI technology has proved to be of great help for the farmers in most of their activities like identifying the best time to plant the crop and applying the right quantity of fertilizer and water at the right time.
AI also assists farmers to identify diseased crops and managing solar farming technology. Besides the ground data, farmers are monitoring their farms with the data captured by flying drones. Unmanned drones are capable to cover more wide land in much reduced time than humans can do on the ground, hence enable the farmers to monitor large farms more frequently. There is nothing more essential than the fundamental need for food and fortunately, the advances in AI are having a great deal to cater to this need.
AI is the most powerful thing to support several security initiatives at the international level. To defend a country, AI applications depend on training data from aerial photography, and physical sensors, etc. These datasets help in monitoring ground activities of the enemy, drones, and assist other national security strategies.
In nutshell, there is an exclusive combination of factors that make AI the most powerful technology in our lifetime. In an AI conference in London, Dave Coplin, the chief Envisioning officer at Microsoft, stated:
“AI is the most important technology that anybody on the planet is working on today and this technology will change how we relate to technology. It will change how we relate to each other. I would argue that it will even change how we perceive what it means to be human.”
Is the current AI the actual AI that was dreamt of?
Many researchers believe that AI is still in its infancy. Software engineers claim that even a small piece of software has AI in it because of the algorithm responding based on preset multi-faceted inputs or user behavior. This is not the actual AI as it was dreamt of. The AI solutions we see today are based on Narrow Intelligence. A true AI system is claimed to be one having the ability to learn and improve on its own without relying on preset behavioral algorithms and is called Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) system that is believed to be capable enough to comprehend any intellectual task just like a human. We can say AGI is all about generating a Smart System just like a human. The one step forward to AGI is ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence) that is believed to be the most powerful intelligence that would surpass the human level of intelligence. Kurzweil believes that ASI will be achieved by 2045 when AI is expected to be one billion times more powerful than human intelligence.
Humans have always obsessed themselves to enhance the quality of life across every spectrum, and technology has been the vehicle to reach that obsession. The past 100 years have witnessed the most histrionic technological upheavals, and the coming 100 years are all set to pave the way for a giant leap forward.
With the progress in technology, we are already linked to Artificial intelligence in our routine activities in the form of voice-powered personal assistants like Siri and Alexa or Watson and more fundamental technologies like suggestive searches, behavioral algorithms, autonomous vehicles, and smart thermostats, etc. AI adds intelligence to the products just like Siri was added to a new generation of Apple products to enhance its feature. Contrary to general perception, AI is not just restricted to the IT or technology industry; rather, it is being widely used in other domains like agriculture, law enforcement, and national defense, etc. Furthermore, there is an exclusive combination of factors that make AI the most powerful technology in our lifetime. Assisting the driver to avoid traffic, providing music and movie recommendations, voice-assistants, wonderful self-driving cars, and numerous other predictive capabilities are few of the powerful applications of AI. Furthermore, computers are getting faster, more transportable, and powerful than ever before. AI, with all of these evolutions, has reshaped our lives making it easier, better, and adding more fun.
With every passing day, companies are investing more resources in AI, signifying a robust growth in AI apps and products in present and future as well. Hence AI is getting more powerful, however, there is much more to witness in the coming years with more developments and improvements.