- May 7, 2021
- By Erin Lee
- ai , artificial intelligence , automation , digital assistants , HAL , machine learning , rogue ai , sci-fi
Why does AI matter?
What is it about AI that has the tech world buzzing? Artificial intelligence has been in use for quite some time, particularly in search engines like Google so that they can send you the best results and the ads you’re most likely to click on. Yet in recent years, AI has gained additional popularity. Our world is becoming more automated, and as that automation occurs, working AI is increasingly important to the average person.
Digital assistants, for example, use AI and machine learning models for voice recognition and voice processing. This allows them to recognize a user by their voice, to understand their words, and to respond back. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant use AI and machine learning in small ways so that the longer you work with them, the better they know you. These assistants are incredibly useful, but also have sparked concerns about privacy–after all, the assistants are always listening. Yet these AIs have still been gaining in popularity, finding an increased presence in homes across the world, suggesting that their usefulness outweighs the potential risk.
But that’s not all: AI may have a major impact in the field of education. Computers can create individualized study plans, analyze test results, track gaps in knowledge and learning disabilities or difficulties, and even, perhaps, predict if a student’s current actions will lead to a passing or a failing grade.
AI is also in the machinery that you see taking the places of human workers. Self-checkout stations, ATMs, and more have made their way into the public eye. Automated machinery also can help keep workers safe, “in particular jobs that involve some element of danger or potential harm, such as work in factories and mining. There are already driverless trucks operating in mining pits in Australia, operated remotely from a distant control center” (Sinnott). Tesla has made some major advancements in AI within automobiles, and are well on their way to self-driving cars.
Using machine learning models and AI to analyze health data can also result in a faster patient diagnosis. Where a human might take months to go through paperwork or not remember a crucial detail, an AI can search through all the files in every available database, comparing and contrasting the case in question, to find an answer. “Hospitals are currently using AI algorithms to more accurately detect tumors in radiology scans and analyze different moles for skin cancer, and machine learning is being adapted to accelerate research toward a cure for cancer” (Sinnott).
The important thing to remember is that AI does not need to be feared. Yes, it may displace some human workers; however, it may also create new jobs. Technology displacing human employees is nothing new–after all, remember what the printing press did to the scribe industry!
The other threat people often think of is the very sci-fi idea of AI gone rogue. Think HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey or Ultron in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is this something we have to worry about? Fortunately, the answer is no, at least not with the level of AI we have currently. The programs we use are given specific tasks and hold defined roles; they are only as good as we make them.
AI has come leaps and bounds, integrating itself into general society, in the past few years. Understanding what it can and can’t do will help you make the best decisions you can.
“Artificial Intelligence Today and Tomorrow.” Senate RPC, 27 February 2020.
Mani, Shantesh. “Artificial Intelligence Powered Digital Assistants.” Voice Tech Podcast, Medium, 3 June 2020.
Sinnott, Nathan. “How Machine Learning is Changing the World–and Your Everyday Life.” Entrepreneur, 25 April 2018.
“When AI goes wrong: What happens when machines go rogue.” Top Business Tech, 24 July 2019.