Top 5: Things AI might actually be good for

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly mocked as being used as a marketing term. But AI is also being used to create some legitimately useful tools. So, to beat back some of the less useful uses of the term, here are five things AI might actually be good for: FarmLogs is an example of complex data analysis that tracks weather, soil conditions, historical satellite imagery and helps farmers determine what kind of plant growth to expect and how to maximize crop yields. Watson made this use of AI famous, and while you can debate its effectiveness, others like Intel are working on things like precision medicine. Machine learning can compare molecular tests with previous cases to customize treatments. Computer interpretation of medical images as an aid to diagnosis is also making rapid advances. SEE: Beware AI's magical promises, as seen in IBM Watson's underwhelming cancer play (TechRepublic) The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is experimenting with AI to help automate and speed up scanning websites for suspicious content. SEE: IT leader's guide to deep learning (Tech Pro Research) AI can help sort through resumes and rank candidates. Unilever used an AI called HireVue to analyze candidates' answers body language and tone, cutting down time to hire and increasing offers and acceptance rates. AI assistants were made famous by smartphones, but where they really shine is providing assistance to human customer service agents. AI can be used to process natural language and route people to the right agent and even listen in and prompt agents with queries and responses. We didn't even include autonomous cars, which use all kinds of machine learning and types of AI to interpret sensors. And there are loads more. There's a lot of fog around the idea of AI these days, but if you look closely you can see some pretty good examples of the real thing.