May 30 2018 0comment
7 commonly asked questions on artificial intelligence

7 Commonly Asked Questions on Artificial Intelligence

Have you started seeing more about artificial intelligence in the news headlines?

Would you like to know how it will affect your day to day life?

As you might know, I recently published my new book about artificial intelligence, which covers 101 fundamental topics on the subject. You can read more about the book here.

In this article, I decided to share my personal views related to some commonly asked questions about artificial intelligence (AI), mainly since many people still find this topic quite confusing and difficult to understand.

1. Why do we need artificial intelligence?
2. Why should you study artificial intelligence?
3. How can we apply artificial intelligence?
4. What are the typical jobs related to artificial intelligence?
5. Will China be the AI super power?
6. Which are the most powerful artificial intelligence companies?
7. What are some common benefits of artificial intelligence technology?

Artificial Intelligence

I will discuss 7 commonly asked questions and answers related to artificial intelligence and the impact it will have on our lives.

1. Why do we need artificial intelligence?

Life would be much simpler and easier to understand if we did not have all the technologies that are growing at an exponential speed (artificial intelligence, blockchain, 3D printing, Internet of Things) and affecting every area of our lives.

The basic premise of AI is that it allows computer programs to learn, rather than needing to be specifically programmed to perform certain tasks.

Because of AI, computers can now learn to do huge amounts of tasks and activities that used to require human intelligence. The more data the AI has, the better results it can produce.

One positive result of this is that AI will make our lives easier in certain areas in which we need to analyze data. Here are four simple examples:

  • Health care: analyzing patient data and conducting predictive analysis.
  • Agriculture: precision agriculture that helps save natural resources.
  • Business processes: AI has the ability to make almost everything better, faster and cheaper.
  • Education: Analyzing study data and providing teachers and students with tips on how to study better.

Another enormous benefit of AI is that it is already helping to improve the lives of children around the world. For example, in the developing world, many children currently spend their childhoods working in factories.

However, thanks to the developments of AI, these factories are increasingly being operated by robots and automation, allowing more children to spend their time studying, playing and enjoying their childhoods.

Additionally, AI will be able to help carry out many tasks and jobs which are too dangerous for humans.

2. Why should you study artificial intelligence?

Excited to study the Python and C++ programming languages?

Even though doing so would be useful, many of us, including myself, don’t have the time or patience to learn these languages, which are typically used for developing artificial intelligence applications.

If you are currently attending college or are interested in learning them, I highly encourage you to do so.

However, it can be much more beneficial to learn how to apply artificial intelligence than to actually code it. This is because finding skillful coders is now easier than ever because of freelance sites such as Upwork.

I strongly believe that everyone should study and learn about these areas related to artificial intelligence:

  • What is artificial intelligence?
  • How could I apply it in my area of interest?
  • How will it change our short term and long-term future?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities presented by AI?

These are some of the topics I cover in my book on artificial intelligence.

Everyone can benefit from learning about AI. Even if you have no interest in learning how to code, I urge you to develop an interest in artificial intelligence and seek to understand the impact it will have on our society.

In addition to my book on AI, there are several excellent sources that can help you to learn the basic concepts of AI. These are some of the ones I recommend:

Elements-of-AI-course

3. How can we apply artificial intelligence?

How we can apply AI in our day-to-day lives is one of the key questions of today’s world.

As with the other technologies of the third industrial revolution, you don’t need to be an AI developer, or work in the industry, to want to learn about AI. Every one of us should be thinking about how we can apply AI in the different areas of our personal and professional lives.

Smart Virtual Assistants

By now, most of us have used smart virtual assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana.

Although most of these still work in a quite rudimentary manner, they will undoubtedly improve significantly in the coming years.

Some experts predict that by 2025, most business communications will be handled directly between the participants’ virtual assistants.

Chatbots

One of the best ways to apply AI is to learn how to create chatbots. Although most of today’s chatbots are rule-based and work without AI, learning how to create them will give you a good head start for developing AI-based chatbots in the future.

Probably the easiest way to create a basic chatbot is by using chatfuel.com, a chatbot building tool which works on Facebook Messenger.

You can also create a chatbot that includes some AI features with the help of IBM’s Watson or Dialogflow by Google.

In my book about AI, I have devoted an entire chapter to this topic, which you might want to check out.

Market Research

Another useful area where AI can be applied is market research. There is a growing number of tools that promise to use AI for analyzing public opinion on certain topics. Meltwater is one example, but soon there will probably be several other similar services.

In addition to chatbots and market research, there are a multitude of other areas to which artificial intelligence could be applied.

One interesting exercise is to list all the business activities your company does on a daily basis, and then analyze what would happen if AI took over part or all of each of these tasks.

I think it’s important to highlight that however you apply AI in your life, it is crucial to always maintain high ethical guidelines and standards.

4. What are the typical jobs related to artificial intelligence?

AI is quickly creating large numbers of new jobs, the biggest challenge of which is having enough qualified workers to fill these positions.
These are some of the AI-related job titles that are currently in the highest demand on job search portals: data scientists, software engineers, research scientists, machine learning experts, and deep learning experts.

However, there will be an even greater demand for professionals who understand how AI works in general, as well as how to help companies and individuals apply these technologies for the benefit of businesses and society

Here are some of the jobs related to AI that I cover in my book:

  • AI Chatbot Designer: A professional who knows how to design AI-based chatbots that can attend to basic customer service needs and provide a positive user experience.
  • AI Digital Marketing Expert: Someone who understands how to leverage various digital marketing and social media tools that employ AI to create more effective marketing strategies.
  • AI Business Strategy Consultant: An expert who analyzes a company and recommends ways that company can build AI services and products with tools like IBM’s Watson, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon Web Services. While it can be helpful to develop internal AI tools, it is also possible to purchase existing solutions from well-known providers like the ones listed above.
  • AI Strategy Consultant for the Public Sector: An expert who can identify potential challenges that will arise due to the introduction of AI into society and can solve problems through AI training. This is an important role for helping society to become familiar and comfortable with the use of new AI technologies. This type of professional could also serve those who have lost their jobs to AI and automation by matching individuals with suitable retraining programs to help them obtain new types of employment.
  • Tech-Addiction Counselor or Coach: A skilled counselor or coach who understands, and knows how to treat, the emotional and physical impacts of the rapid growth of AI and the problems that may arise from overuse. With the increasing presence of AI technologies in our everyday lives comes the potential for users to become addicted to some of these products. Also, some people may suffer from negative emotional consequences due to an overreliance on AI at the expense of normal social interactions and relationships with humans.
  • Creativity Coach: A trained professional with experience in helping others to develop human-based skills including social and emotional intelligence, and creativity. This is an important role that, because it cannot be filled by robots, will hold a great deal of value for people in the future.

5. Will China be the AI super power?

The simple answer to this question is YES.

How China is achieving this is quite intriguing. China has created a national AI team comprised of its top artificial intelligence technology companies such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

3-most-powerful-artificial-intelligence companies

The objective is to be the world leader in AI by 2030, and China is currently one of the only countries that has set this type of goal.

In general, the Chinese have the reputation of being much more hardworking than the Americans or Europeans, and to me it is quite obvious that they will reach their goal.

In the first stage of China’s AI plan, the country wants to focus and work on these seven key areas of artificial intelligence:

  1. Intelligent Connected Vehicles (ICV)
  2. Intelligent Service Robots
  3. Intelligent Unmanned Arial Vehicles
  4. Computer Aided Medical Imaging Diagnosis Systems
  5. Video Image Recognition
  6. Artificial Audio Intelligence (AAI)
  7. Computer Translation

(source: ChinaLawBlog.com)

This basically means that people in China’s largest cities will soon see many AI applications such as intelligent connected vehicles (self-driving cars) and intelligent service robots.

However, being an AI super power does not necessarily equal having the citizens with the greatest sense of wellbeing, or ensuring that the wealth generated by AI is distributed fairly among the country’s population.

For this, I predict that European countries will take the lead, demonstrating to the rest of the world the importance of applying AI ethically and fairly, and sharing the benefits equally throughout society.

6. Which are the most powerful artificial intelligence companies?

Virtually every big technology company has the number one goal of being an important player in the AI marketplace, providing artificial intelligence products and services to consumers.

Google

At this point in time, it’s safe to say that Google has a head start, including the most interesting AI products, as well as the most profound and complete AI research activities.

In fact, Google has changed the name of its research center to “Google AI,”
demonstrating just how important AI research is to the company.

Google recently announced some new features that its AI assistant can handle, including making phone calls and booking appointments and reservations in an incredibly life-like voice.

You can hear a demo of Google Assistant calling to book an appointment at a hair salon here:

This product is not yet available to the public, and it might take a long time before Google releases it.

I cover Google’s AI activities in more depth in my book, but you can start researching their AI undertakings here: https://ai.google/

Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM and Nvidia

All of these companies are working in several key areas in order to offer AI products and solutions. They are also all competing to employ the best AI talent and trying to improve their AI research efforts.

Out of these six companies, I would say that Apple is currently the one with the weakest AI activities. Meanwhile, Amazon is probably growing the fastest in the consumer AI product field, by offering Amazon Alexa powered software, which can be embedded in almost every device.

Chinese AI companies

Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are leading the Chinese AI efforts, as mentioned earlier. These companies are growing quickly in every area and should be carefully followed by everyone interested in the future of the AI field.

7. What are some common benefits of artificial intelligence technology?

As AI will impact so many areas of our lives and businesses, there are actually enormous amounts of direct and indirect benefits that can be brought about thanks to artificial intelligence.

Here is a list of some of the key benefits.

  • AI and Poverty: AI will be used to fight extreme poverty and improve quality of life for people in remote areas.
  • AI and Everyday Life: AI and robotics can take on tasks that are dangerous, boring or difficult for humans.
  • AI and Travel: AI will power autonomous vehicles, which will help to generate improved traffic efficiency, cheaper mobility options and greater safety on the streets.
  • AI and World Peace: AI research and development can be used to help in the quest for world peace.
  • AI and Businesses Opportunities: AI will create amazing opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide and also increase productivity.
  • AI and Business Processes: AI will generate improvements to almost every business process.
  • AI and Industries: AI will drastically transform almost every commercial industry.

When talking about the benefits, we should also highlight the disadvantages and challenges generated by the growth of AI. This is especially important since there is not enough public discussion about the topic. This is in large part because the tech leaders who appear in the media rarely mention the possible disadvantages, naturally preferring to focus on the benefits instead, in order to generate more profits for their companies.

There are clearly many exceptions such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who advocate for a universal basic income, which would be a way to essentially provide “money for nothing” to those people whose jobs have been displaced by automation and AI.

What are your questions about AI?

Feel free to post them below.

For more information on the developments on artificial intelligence technology check my new book:

Arficial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future

Kindle editionPrinted edition

Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future
Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future

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