Education

An introduction to AI

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is currently a big topic in the technology industry. Make no mistake, AI has a profound and ever-growing impact on the daily lives of humans, shaping the activities of the current world, as well as influencing the future of humankind and the planet. However, that begs the question, what is AI and when will we need to save humanity from robot overlords?

Lucky for us, we are far from the movies where AI runs rampant and intentionally harms humans. 

John McCarthy, a computer scientist from Stanford University defined AI as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.” 

He goes on to define intelligence as “the computational part of the ability to achieve goals in the world. Varying kinds and degrees of intelligence occur in people, many animals, and some machines.” Long story short, AI is all about solving problems to achieve goals with a solution that comes from a machine or program and sometimes may not follow the human design or thought process. 

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Where are we currently with AI?

Today, organizations have developed Weak AI or Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). This type of AI is, “trained and focused to perform specific tasks.” Applications of this would be Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and much talked about OpenAI’s ChatGPT. These systems are fed tons of information to assist their human users with providing quick solutions to naturally asked questions. 

Examples of these solutions would be upcoming weather, diet and workout planning, new bridge designs, writing a biography, providing healthcare information, software coding, creating images and videos, or even helping a student solving their school assignments. Possibilities of uses are nearly endless as evident by seemingly every other day a company is touting a new AI-driven feature. 

Are there any dangers to ponder when using these applications?

Problems coming from AI are certainly a concern. Many of these systems are further defined as Generative AI which provides information to what it was asked based on the information it was taught, but that does not mean it will always give correct solutions. Some other potential issues for consideration: Misinformation and Fake Content, Deepfakes, Malicious Use, Privacy Concern, Bias and Discrimination, Legal and Ethical Implications, Intellectual Property Concerns, Job Displacement, Security Risks, and Psychological and Social Impacts. 

At this point you might ask, is this the limit of AI?

Moving forward, we have Strong AI or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). AGI is “a theoretical form of AI where a machine would have an intelligence equaled to humans; it would have a self-aware consciousness that has the ability to solve problems, learn, and plan for the future.” Even beyond that type of AI, we have what the industry calls Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) which is an AI that would “surpass the intelligence and ability of the human brain.” To be clear, our technology is quite far from these two types of AI.

To wrap all of this up, AI’s impact on daily life, current activities, and the future of humankind and the world is undeniable and multifaceted. It holds the potential to improve our well-being, productivity, and sustainability, but it also poses ethical and regulatory challenges that must be addressed responsibly. As we navigate this transformative era, the collaboration between humans and machines will define our ability to harness the full potential of AI for the betterment of society and the planet.

Related story:
Education Week: H-F High embraces innovation as it prepares students for their future (Nov. 17, 2023)

Note: Cosme is the owner of Homewood small business CRIT Solution operating as a one-stop-shop electronics and technology help service for residential and business customers. See their website for more information: https://critsolution.com/.

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