Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the extraordinary intelligence in machines resembling that of humans and even exceeding human intelligence, such machines are designed to think like humans and even imitate their actions. Such machines exhibit incredible capabilities such as learning and problem solving.
Some of the major branches/subsets of AI:
- Machine Learning – It allows machines to interpret, execute and look into data for solving real world problems.
- Expert Systems – It is a computer program that is mapped out to solve complex problems and to offer decision making skills like a human expert.
- Natural Language Processing – It is a part of computer science and AI that allows communication between computer and human by natural language.
- Fuzzy Logic – It is a system of reasoning that is similar to human reasoning.
Some common examples of AI in daily life:
- Virtual Assistants – We all are familiar with our virtual friends Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Alexa. These are friendly voice-activated programs that we interact with on a daily basis. These help us find information about anything whether it be about the nearest medical store to you or your next series recommendation.
- Self Driving Cars – Self driving cars have become much common these days such as the well known Tesla. The Tesla shows predictive capabilities, self-driving features and other amazing technologies. Tesla uses AI chips to analyze traffic situations for guiding the car accordingly.
- Olly – It is a table top AI assistant with personality. It is a home assistant similar to Alexa but Olly is way more advanced as it can adapt its behavior to suit its owner. Olly is developed by Emotech and with its AI powered technology it can analyze the user’s facial expression, vocal intonations and verbal patterns and can initiate a conversation based on them accompanied by appropriate suggestions. For example if Olly finds you resting your head it will ask you if you had a tough day and will ask you if she could play your favorite songs to uplift your mood. It is also capable of moving close to the user.
Use of AI in Education Sector:
- Jill Watson – Jill Watson is a graduate level teaching assistant in the Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s a literal teaching machine. She is expected to be able to answer about 40% of the 10,000 questions students ask each semester.
- Duolingo – It is a language learning app. It has several features that use AI such as a placement exam that the app provides, in this test the upcoming questions are based on the responses and the quality of your responses. The use of AI also helps to personalize sessions and analyze your mistake patterns. The app also supports AI driven chatbots that converse with users.
- Third Space Learning – It is an online learning platform that provides one to one math classes to students. With its AI technology it can evaluate recorded sessions and reveal patterns in both educators and learner’s mannerism. It can analyze if the learner is showing lack of interest and thus provides the educators with AI driven feedback during every session indicating them to change the method of teaching or to slow down if they are going too fast.
- Plagiarism Checkers – While mostly plagiarism checkers are believed to have a massive database of reference materials to compare to your text. However, research demonstrates how ML (a branch of AI) is used to detect plagiarizing content that is not located within the database such as those in foreign languages or the older sources that have not been digitized.
How AI is helping physically/mentally impaired people:
- Voiceitt – Voiceitt is an AI, specifically machine learning, driven app that helps people with speech defects including both those who have a temporary problem with speech or those who suffer permanent defects due to ailments like cerebral palsy, down’s syndrome, etc. This app adapts and recognizes their speech even if they are mispronounced, unclear, and hard to understand by normal people. It normalizes their speech before generating a final audio or text that other people can easily understand. Thus, by using this app such people can communicate effortlessly with their friends and family. Moreover, Voiceitt proves to be very beneficial for people suffering with cerebral palsy or other ailments that not only constricts speech but also body movement. The app can also command smart home assistants to adjust home settings according to their needs. Voiceitt is a great initiative that has helped hundreds of people and has the potential of making thousands of lives better in the coming times. And all this is possible just because of AI.
- Ava – Ava is an app that works towards empowering deaf and hard-of-hearing people. This app provides live captioning which establishes a smooth and hassle free communication. Ava uses AI to transcribe instantly what people say. How it works is that all of the people who are indulged in a conversation open the ava app in their smartphones and the app very accurately converts every spoken word into text in nearly real time, and the words of each person is colored differently. This way a person who is deaf or finds it h ard to hear can easily indulge in a conversation. Today, this AI guided app helps nearly 150,000 people daily.
- accessiBe – This is essentially a web accessibility technology. It is a foreground app that websites can use to make their website accessiBe to more number of people. accessiBe claims that almost 20% of the people who wish to use the web are disabled in some way and thus cannot use your website. But, with accessiBe your website can be more inclusive. accessiBe allows change in the components of any website such as font type, color, size and spacing according to individual needs. This feature is very helpful for people with color blindness, cataracts and other visual impairments. Other than this, there is also a feature for people suffering from epilepsy, real or animations of blinking lights can trigger seizures for such people, thus the animation control feature allows users with epilepsy to disable such animations so that they can browse without any problem. Moreover, the AI powered accessiBe is also capable of processing visual content (pictures and images) and converting them into alt text that allows screen readers to describe the image on the website to visually impaired people. It provides easy navigation by just a single key to help people with motor impairments and it also has an inbuilt dictionary for elderly and people with cognitive impairments who find it difficult to understand complex language. accessiBe uses two applications together to work all this magic. . The accessibility interface takes care of all the UI and design-related adjustments, while the AI-powered background process makes the optimizations for screen-reader and for keyboard navigation possible, which is a pretty complex process.
Everything feels nice and cozy on a bed of roses, until you get pricked by a thorn. Similar is the case with AI. Artificial Intelligence seems to be a pretty good advancement when we take a look at its advantages. But when we start analyzing some of the disadvantages that AI is accompanied with, we understand that AI too has its pros and cons.
Some of its cons are mentioned below:
- Potential Cause of Unemployment – The main function of AI is to think and function like humans. So, if AI does the work of humans there is definitely some possibility of AI triggering unemployment. Suppose that many other robots similar to Jill Watson (as mentioned earlier) are created then wouldn’t all teachers and professors become unemployed. Human interference in many repetitive tasks is becoming less and less which in future will induce a major problem in employment standards.
- A Threat to Mankind – Many researchers believe that AI might pose a serious threat to mankind. AI cannot become human, and thus it is incapable to understand if something is ethical or not, it will just focus on what it is programmed to do which is a pretty dangerous fact in itself. If AI ends up in the wrong hands there is a possibility that he may program it to do something destructive. Moreover, even if AI is programmed to do something advantageous, it may decide to follow a destructive way of doing the same because ultimately it will do anything to complete its task. For example, suppose if you command an AI driven super-intelligent system to bring your friend to your house, the super-intelligent system/robot will do anything to complete the task even if it hurts your friend in the process.
- Highly Expensive – Creating AI machines can be very expensive as it is a long and complex process that requires many elements to be put together. These elements are generally very cost consuming. Moreover, AI machines require maintenance occasionally which also charges a lot. Other than this, AI technology/software needs to be repeatedly updated to fit the changing work requirements and environment, or else the software will become outdated, which can also end up being pretty expensive.
- Dependency of Humans on AI – Humans are becoming more and more familiar with AI, and we have reached a certain stage where AI is easily available and accessible to any ordinary human. This has increased our dependency on AI. Today, from driving cars to sorting large amounts of food by size and shape in food factories, all these tasks have become so effortless thanks to AI. But we have become so dependent on it that we take the help of AI for minimal chores like switching on lights, setting an alarm, or turning on TV.
No doubt that there are some drawbacks of AI but most of them are visions of the future and are not proven to be legit yet while on the other hand the advantages of AI are very open to the public and can be very clearly seen. It is a matter of fact that Artificial Intelligence is proving to be very beneficial to humankind and thus it is becoming more and more integrated in our daily lives.
Well, it would be pretty appropriate to quote these words by Stephen Hawking:
“AI IS LIKELY TO BE EITHER THE BEST OR THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO HUMANITY”