If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
I often use this quote from Isaac Newton in my teaching. AI is a vast and a complex subject. No matter how much you know - you realise that there is really a vast amount more to learn. So, my way of learning a subject as complex and dynamic as AI, is to share my insights. This helps me to refine my own thinking.
Truly "autonomous" systems are starting to replace or augment many of the routine tasks and processes people perform every day, improving efficiency while freeing individuals for higher-level pursuits. But what's often overlooked is how much progress is happening in other areas and industries: healthcare, air travel, energy provision, retail, logistics, agriculture, and construction. Autonomous systems are even helping governments match refugees with the most suitable communities to live, as detailed in one of the four real-world vignettes we present below. Such optimism makes sense, given advances such as self-managing and self-patching databases in IT. But our survey's other findings might underestimate the pace of change: Just 24% say they expect to see significant use of autonomous tech in construction, for example, even though self-driving bulldozers already are in use on select projects.
In the first article of our conversational AI series, we explored how the proliferation of voice assistants and messaging platforms are giving way to a new era of user interfaces (see the sidebar, "A five-part series on conversational AI"). Whether it's in the car, a phone, or a smart home device, nearly 112 million US consumers rely on their voice assistants at least once a month--and that number continues to grow.1 These can range from the mundane, such as misinterpreting a request for ordering a roll of paper towel, to the more troubling error of providing a harmful health recommendation (or conversely, providing an accurate, but difficult to interpret recommendation).2 Despite the uptick in adoption of voice-enabled virtual assistants, designing effective products is a nontrivial endeavor. Virtual assistants often deal with multiple, sometimes complex scenarios that require understanding a range of queries to which users expect a quick, accurate, and easily interpretable response.
AI is seen as a possible silver bullet for medicine and healthcare. But can AI truly transform these realms? The answer is no in the short term, but very likely in the long term. Right now billions of dollars are being invested in AI research for medicine, medically oriented human biology, and health care. It is not surprising why upon the waves of myriads of sensational headlines from media outlets, we are becoming more and more intrigued about what results it can bring.
Adding artificial intelligence to supply chains is delivering tangible benefits for companies putting it in place. Recent research out of McKinsey finds 61% of executives report decreased costs and 53% report increased revenues as a direct result of introducing artificial intelligence into their supply chains. Areas generating revenue in supply chain management include sales and demand, forecasting, spend analytics, and logistics network optimization. I ran this question past Arnaud Morvan, senior engagement director at Aera Technology, a company that focuses on AI. "A reliance on obsolete legacy technologies creates a great deal of time-consuming and error-prone manual work for supply chain practitioners," Morvan points out. "They often spend about 50% of their time collecting and crunching numbers from disparate global systems. That adds weeks or months of delay to core processes that need to run faster to keep up with market demand."
Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) create an environment where design thinking skills are more valuable than data science skills? Will AI alter how we define human intelligence? Will AI actually force humans to become more human? Okay, sounds questions one might expect from an episode of Rod Serling's TV series "Twilight Zone" (which I preferred over the meaningless college football bowl games on New Year's Day). Instead of AI replacing humans, will AI actually make humans more human, and the very human characteristics such as empathy, compassion and collaboration actually become the future high-value skills that are cherished by leading organizations.
The German government is facing a bill of around $887,000 (800,000 euros) for failing to upgrade to Windows 10 ahead of the Windows 7 end of support date last week. German newspaper Handelsblatt reports that the German Federal Ministry is looking to secure at least 33,000 machines still running Windows 7, which involves paying Microsoft a fee per device for a year of extended security protection. Lego is releasing an official International Space Station kit, which includes a scale model of the orbital platform, along with a miniature dockable Space Shuttle, a deployable satellite and two astronaut mini figurines. The kit is made up of 864 pieces, and celebrates the science station's more than 20 years in operation. It was originally suggested through Lego's Ideas platform, which crowdsources ideas from the Lego fan community.
Meet the xenobots: Tiny living robots have been created using cells taken from frog embryos. Each so-called xenobot is less than a millimeter across, but one can propel itself through water using two stumpy limbs, while another has a kind of pouch that it could use to carry a small load. The early research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help the development of useful soft robots that can heal themselves when damaged. Because they are made of living tissue, they also decay once they stop working. The researchers, from Tufts University, the University of Vermont, and the Wyss Institute at Harvard, hope such living robots could one day be used to clean up microplastics, digest toxic materials, or even deliver drugs inside our bodies (although this is obviously still all a long way off).