There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) has come to stay. But what defines AI and how it is shaping our lives and environment?
AI+ is an annual international conference on the topic “applied artificial intelligence and sustainability”. The digital conference was held for the first time in September 2020 and is intended to be an annual event.
The purpose of this conference is to give Norwegian and international environments a place to share competence and information within the developing field of AI. The overall goal is to accelerate societal and business development with the complex technology.
At the conference, problem solvers from all walks of life will be gathered to drive forward the potential of AI across science, tech, and business.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The term artificial intelligence is used a lot these days, but what does it actually mean? What is artificial intelligence (AI)? AI technology is the ability for computers to simulate human independent intelligence. AI technology can be explained as computers being able to find solutions to tasks without getting any instructions for how to solve them. It is about how systems can understand obtained data, and based on this information perform an action where the purpose is to achieve a specific goal.
Simply put, AI is an “intelligent” system that is capable of solving problems and at the same time learn from its own mistakes and experiences. AI covers all intelligent systems and can be divided into expert models (rule-based AI) and machine learning (data-driven models).
Machine learning is what most of us think of when we are talking about AI technology. This is a system that learns. Simply explained, it means that the program starts from scratch with no knowledge and over time it learns through processing data and taking actions - like we humans do when we learn something that requires practice, like playing the guitar.
Machine learning consists of several applications, from simple programs in a smartphone to self-driving cars. An example of machine learning is search engines that suggest keywords based on data from past search terms and other user interactions.
Neural Networks and Deep Learning
An important and complicated part of machine learning is neural networks, which mimic how the human brain works. The brain consists of neurons that are connected by synapses. Each neuron does a simple calculation of the signals that the neuron receives. When this calculation reaches a certain level, the neuron sends a signal to all other neurons it is connected to.
Deep learning makes it possible to build more complex models. It is a learning process where the point is to train artificial neural networks. These neural networks are used as a data structure inspired by the human brain and, like the brain, they consist of processing devices called neurons that are connected by synapses.
A neural network consists of:
A data layer
One or more hidden layers of neurons and synapses
One layer with results
If a neural network consists of more than one hidden layer it is considered to be deep learning. This can be used for developing pharmaceuticals, recommendation systems like movie recommendations, processing of medical pictures, and so on.
Natural Language Processing
An example several of us are familiar with when it comes to artificial intelligence and deep learning is natural language processing (NLP). This theme is about making computers able to understand human language. The term includes both the way we speak and also the way we write. An example of this is speech recognition, like when we talk to our phone to make it write our text message. Another example is chatbots that are learning to understand the context of what we write and give us a correct response. It makes the chatbots more human.
The Beginning of Artificial Intelligence
In 1950, the foundation of AI as a research field was published by Alan Turing. He was a mathematician and a computer pioneer. Turing wanted to see if it was possible to create an intelligent system.
To determine whether a machine is intelligent or not, Turing created the Turing test. An objective person starts a written dialogue with another person and a computer. If the person cannot tell which one is the computer, it is considered to be “intelligent”.
So far, no machine has passed the test. According to Dataconomy.com, we have to understand how our brain works on an algorithmic level to further advance in AI technology.
What can AI be used for?
Today, artificial intelligence has become a part of our everyday life. It can be used in different industries and sectors to perform a wide range of tasks. Examples of what AI might do is:
Analysis and processing data
Marketing and sales automation
Forecasts and planning
Using artificial intelligence in marketing is, nowadays, almost essential. This is because of the fast paced technological world we are living in. Things happen so fast, that it is necessary for us to use AI to keep up with the pace of digital consumer behaviour.
Artificial intelligence marketing is actually a thing, and at the blog Social Media Strategies Summit, the term is described like this “Artificial intelligence marketing (AI Marketing) is a method of leveraging customer data and AI concepts like machine learning to anticipate your customer’s next move and improve the customer journey”.
One example of AI marketing is the use of recommendations. When we search for something in Google, we get recommendations for search terms; when trying to find a new movie on Netflix, we get recommended movies and series based on what we´ve seen before. The same goes for online stores, where you get recommendations for products they think you may want based on your purchase history and what others have bought.
Another example we are familiar with is chatbots. Chatbots greet us on many of today´s websites: For example when you are shopping online on an eCommerce store, or visiting important pages such as Skatteetaten.no or Helsenorge.no to find information about taxes or how to change our GP.
With chatbots the customers can get help in an easier way – they don´t have to call or send an email to customer service to get an answer. Further still, it is possible to customise the customer experience and give them related information. At the same time, the bots can learn from the customer’s interactions, and make the conversation and marketing to customers even better.
Personalized with AI
A thread throughout all AI marketing is that artificial intelligence has the ability to give our customers a personalised and customised experience.
Within the health sector, AI also has several usages. As a big part of today’s technology, artificial intelligence brings many opportunities to the medicine and the health sector. By using this technology we can do a better job, faster than today. In the paragraphs below, you can read a little more about how artificial intelligence can be used in health.
Managing Medical Data - Predict and Give a Diagnosis
An article from IBM describes several AI applications in medicine. One of these applications is to use machine learning models to detect diseases, such as sepsis, and also to diagnose patients.
An article giving us an overview of artificial intelligence in medicine describes that with the principle of deep learning, such as recognising patterns, a computer can learn to recognise symptoms or read medical images. By using artificial intelligence to manage medical data and interpret medical images, the technology can help us discover changes in patients’ conditions. For example, by using AI to interpret medical images, breast cancer can be discovered at an early stage.
Artificial intelligence is also highly relevant within the financial sector, and there are several ways to use this technology.
Discover Illegal Acitvities
By using AI, companies can find and search for patterns and deviations in, for example, transactions. That way, they can discover fraud and other illegal activities.
Predict the Future
Another way AI can be used in the financial sector is to predict what will happen in the future. This makes it possible for the company to make smarter decisions, knowing possible risks, how the competitors will react, and how clients will respond.
Pros and Cons With AI
There are both pros and cons to artificial intelligence. Read on to learn some of the benefits and pitfalls of this technology.
Benefits with Artificial Intelligence
There are a lot of positive sides to AI. Here we have listed some of the benefits of using this kind of technology:
Automation of simple and repeating tasks, allowing employees to spend more time on other tasks.
Robots that are based on AI do not need breaks like humans do, which means a big amount of work can be done cheaper and more efficiently.
Early detection of diseases.
Pitfalls of the AI Technology
As this complex technology is taking more space in our lives, we also have to consider what risks we are taking by using it, and what pitfalls there are.
People Lose Their Jobs
When a machine takes over an employee’s task, this person can spend their time on other, more important tasks. That is great. But some worry that employees will be replaced with machines altogether and lose their jobs, creating an even tougher labour market.
What About Ethics?
The ethical perspective is also a concern with this kind of technology. To complete a task, the AI system requires a set of data. Questions we might ask ourselves are: What kind of information is needed and how is it used by the system? An example of this might be a trial where discriminating information like ethnicity or income can unfairly influence the outcome.
It´s too Complicated to Understand
One of the biggest challenges with AI is that humans do not always understand how computers make their decisions. Even the developers can find it difficult to understand how the system reached the different results. This is called the black box.
The Black Box
The black box refers to the mechanisms and inputs behind AI technology that is not visible to the user. The black box is an essential part of the research and development of artificial intelligence.
The more data a system process, the more precise it gets. But it also gets more complex to understand. This might become a problem at hospitals, where tiny mistakes can have fatal consequences.
AI in the Future?
There is no doubt that artificial intelligence already plays a central part in our daily lives, and that it will stay a part of technology and science in the future. AI is constantly under development, and with the Norwegian government’s strategy for AI in place, we can expect increased usage of this type of technology in different parts of our society.
Regardless of how AI technology is used in the future, it´s clear that it´s beneficial for our society. However, it´s important to remember that new technology is not necessarily the answer to everything and that there are disadvantages of using this kind of technology.
Do You Wish to Learn More About AI?
If you want to learn more about artificial intelligence, you can participate in the annual conference AI+. The international conference addresses important and exciting topics about applied AI. The goal is to give Norwegian and international environments a place to share competence, inspiration, and information about AI, innovation, computer-driven economy, and digital systems.