What is an Artificial Intelligence enhanced product?
Artificial Intelligence - everyone is talking about it, but few understand how it all works.
I should begin by saying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term used to describe a range of programming disciplines. Wherever you look in the technology press you’ll see the term Artificial Intelligence being banded about. Everything is either AI this or AI that and products from cameras to toothbrushes claim to contain it. What I find interesting is that most companies who are claiming to use AI don’t specify the actual type of software they say they’re using. Whether this is a Neural Network, Natural Language Translation, Expert System, Gaming Engine (yes, games use AI) or Genetic Algorithms etc.
It’s the buzzword of the moment and yet this suite of technologies are capable of producing amazing results from what can be complex data sets. So complex that a human cannot begin to see any patterns in the information they contain.
The term artificial intelligence was first used in the 1950’s, but AI is only just coming into maturity thanks to increased data volumes, advanced algorithms, and improvements in computing power and storage. These improvements are bearing fruit for companies in areas such as image recognition, medical diagnosis, financial forecasting and speech to text (and text to speech) translations.
So what does AI do - it makes it possible for computers to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. Most AI examples that you hear about today, from chess- playing computers to self-driving cars, rely heavily on deep learning neural networks where the program is shown multiple examples of data to be learned. Using these technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognising patterns within that data. Once these patterns have been learned, the trained program can perform the task of analysing new data presented to it in a fraction of the time it would take a human.
By this definition not all computer programs include AI behaviour, as they don’t have the ability to automatically improve their performance. Instead they may have some simple heuristic logic that is used to enhance the programs functionality, but (in my opinion) this is false marketing to label these products as AI enabled. What I would like to see more mention of is the type of Artificial Intelligence being used and not hide behind the generic AI label. If something uses a Neural Network, I’d like to see it stated as such.