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An introduction to AI

Modern-day technology, such as artificial intelligence, has advanced to make human life easier. AI is even present in voice assistants, such as Alexa and Siri, which help set reminders, answer questions about the weather and keep track of personal information.

AI is a simulation of human intelligence. Taking in data provided, AI can analyze the data, correct mistakes and make decisions based on the perceived patterns and instructions given.

Almost all businesses use some form of AI. It can be used to effectively analyze data or automate tasks traditionally done by humans in various industries, such as customer service, research, manufacturing, fraud detection and quality control.

This video will explain the different forms of AI and highlight AI's strengths and weaknesses.

Samantha Poutre is an editorial assistant at TechTarget and a student at Roger Williams University. She studies creative writing at Roger Williams with a minor in global communications. She has served as an editor for two of her university’s newspapers and enjoys participating in clubs involving writing and the arts.

Transcript - An introduction to AI

What is AI, anyway?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can be broadly defined as the simulation of human intelligence by machines. There are, of course, varying degrees of sophistication in so-called AI-enabled machines, processes or services, but almost all businesses employ some type of AI.

Dig deeper on AI in the enterprise and business use cases by clicking the link above, or in the description below. And be sure to subscribe for more videos on all things business tech.

AI can be thought of as an umbrella term, comprised of other technologies like machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing, to name a few. In general, AI systems work by ingesting large amounts of data, analyzing the data for correlations and patterns, and using these patterns to make predictions.

The human element comes from incorporating key cognitive elements into AI programming:

  • Learning.
  • Reasoning.
  • Self-correction.
  • And creativity.

Not all AI is created -- or programmed -- equally, though. AI can be either weak or strong.

A weak AI system, or narrow AI, is designed for a particular task, but can't operate without human interaction. Take for instance how Alexa, Siri, ChatGPT, and Bard respond to specific user prompts. Even self-driving cars -- which can pilot a vehicle, stay in a lane, and avoid unexpected obstacles -- are considered weak AI.

Strong AI has generalized human cognitive abilities, meaning it can solve tasks without human intervention. In theory, a strong AI program should be able to pass both a Turing test and the Chinese Room argument. There is not yet a real-world application of strong AI.

AI can be broken down even further into four types:

  • Reactive machines, which are the earliest forms of AI that have no memory.
  • Limited memory machines, which can use past experiences to inform future decisions. This is where most AI we reference today lands.
  • Theory of mind AI, which can understand emotions and intentions.
  • And finally, self-aware AI, or systems that have consciousness -- there are no examples of this kind of AI yet.

The popularization of generative AI specifically put AI in the spotlight as far as business decision-making is concerned. While AI can excel at detail-oriented, repetitive, data-heavy tasks and free workers for more complex or creative tasks, it has its drawbacks:

  • It can be expensive to run AI models.
  • Requires deep technical knowledge.
  • And raises ethical concerns around perpetuating bias and discrimination.

Despite these risks, there aren't many regulations governing the use of AI tools. For one, the technology behind AI and generative AI is evolving faster than the law -- or even this video -- can keep up with. Second, companies are using AI for different things, so it's hard to make blanket legislation around its use. And third, the transparency of AI algorithms -- or lack thereof -- makes it difficult to explain how AI reaches its results.

Experts anticipate that AI will only improve products and performance, and eventually, the distinction between human intelligence and artificial intelligence will blur and then evaporate altogether.

How do you think AI impacts our ability to work and learn? Does it help or hurt us? Share your thoughts in the comments, and remember to like and subscribe, too.

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