Growing up, I remember going to the video store and pacing up and down the aisles trying to choose a movie to rent. I would do this for half an hour or more. If I was in a rush, I could ask the unfashionable, socially awkward guy at the front desk to look at my rental history and have him suggest a movie based on his specialist knowledge.
Today, Netflix automatically shows me movie recommendations based on my browsing and watch history.
Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence (AI).
AI can be best described as an area of computer science that develops smart software that can work and react like humans.
That doesn’t mean AI can do everything that humans do. But we’ll get into that later.
How Artificial Intelligence Works
To develop AI, you need a GOAL and INFORMATION and then you need to write software that uses the information to help meet the goal.
If we look at Netflix, the “goal” is to recommend shows you might like and the “information” is your browsing and watch history.
If we look at Uber, the “goal” is to get you from A to B at a fair price in good time. The “information” is your location, the available cars in your area, the current traffic conditions, and the current supply/demand of Uber.
With a goal and the right information, software can be written to produce a result.
How smart is Artificial Intelligence?
It depends on what you think is smart. For example, what you think is difficult, is actually easy for AI, and what you find easy, is actually difficult for AI.
A computer can easily beat a person at chess, multiply big numbers in a fraction of a second, and translate languages – all difficult tasks for a human. What a computer finds more difficult is reasoning, problem solving and computer vision.
What is computer vision?
Computer vision is an area of artificial intelligence that uses deep learning models and pattern recognition to identify objects in an image or video.
This is not easy.
For a computer to look at an image and tell you what’s in the image, it has to know what objects are, how the objects relate to each other, what all the variations look like, and how they appear on different backgrounds, plus many other factors.
How are companies using computer vision?
There are many exciting applications for computer vision. For example, a self driving car may rely on computer vision to perceive the world around it and avoid crashing. Or a farmer may use computer vision to conduct predictive imaging analysis to monitor the health of crops and livestock.
Here at Cammy, we use computer vision to analyse security camera footage (the information) and send an alert if a person is detected (the goal). This has allowed us to provide a security system that guarantees no false alarms.
Is artificial intelligence replacing human jobs?
In some cases yes. Just like machines replaced humans in the industrial age, software is doing the same in the technological age… but not for everything.
Jobs that require reasoning, empathy and complex problem solving, such as management and health care are better performed by humans and will be for a long time.
Creative jobs are also better performed by humans. In fact, AI is helping, rather than hindering artists. Whether it’s predicting the next big pop hit, or helping advertisers better target customers, AI is a great tool for many creatives.
Remember too, that AI will also create a number of new jobs, particularly in the technology sector.
Can my business benefit from Artificial Intelligence?
Your business probably already benefits from artificial intelligence (via services you use), you just don’t know it!
Most small to medium sized businesses can benefit from AI by using the latest software services available. Whether that’s point of sale software that forecasts your budget, banking software that detects fraud, or our security system that eliminates false alarms and makes searching footage easy.
There is a lot more to AI so I have included some links below if you want to dive deeper.