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) …
Checking for care The project is being developed as part of Microsoft's Healthcare NeXT initiative. The company's trying to find ways of offering digital healthcare experiences that let user get immediate information on common ailments. Microsoft has partnered with Aurora Health Care for its latest chatbot service, creating the "Aurora Digital Concierge" for patients. The smartphone app allows users to determine the level of care needed for their condition. By answering questions provided by the bot, the app can suggest possible causes for the symptoms being experienced.
"When big changes happen it is often because regulation, user preference and technology converge – mobile telephony is one example, the car another. We have picked the trends that we think are both illuminating and important to stay on top of ahead of the New Year," says Bjørn Taale Sandberg, Head of Telenor Research. Consumer-trends such as face recognition, on-demand services and 360-photos aside, what seismic shifts in the broader technology landscape might shake things up in 2018? Looking ahead, scientists and technology analysts at Telenor Group's research arm, Telenor Research, see seven tech trends coming our way: Facebook users are posting less and the amount of relevant information on the Facebook newsfeed is dropping, giving way to an increasing amount of professional and paid content – of varying relevance. Users are also likely becoming more critical as awareness rises around "fake news" seeping into their feeds.
Microsoft AI chief Harry Shum says the company is fulfilling Bill Gates' vision of a computer that can understand us. If you ask Google "Is Hamilton a good musical?" it will send back a link to Quora, the question-and-answer service, where people ask that same question. The next link, a story published in Slate last year, is an interview with a critic who argues why the Pulitzer-, Grammy- and Tony-winning musical isn't revolutionary (their pun, not ours). Microsoft thinks it can do better. Beginning Wednesday, the company will start giving you more nuanced answers, powered by artificial intelligence software designed to identify different viewpoints.
Artificial intelligence took center stage at Microsoft's AI Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. Aside from announcing AI smarts for a range of software -- from Bing to Office 365 -- the tech titan is also ramping up its Seeing AI app for iOS, which uses computer vision to audibly help blind and visually impaired people to see the world around them. According to Microsoft, it's nabbed 100,000 downloads since its launch in the US earlier this year, which convinced the tech titan to bring it to 35 countries in total, including the EU. It's also getting a bunch of new features. The app now boasts more currency recognition, adding British pounds, US dollars, Canadian dollars, and Euros to its tally.
It's the year 2000, I'm just about eight years old, and it's my first day on AOL Instant Messenger. My fingers move clumsily across the plastic keyboard as I try to type fast enough to keep up with two cousins who are already seasoned AIM pros, sending me rapid-fire missives of excitement in our little online chat room. I'm in Boston and they're in New York, but "omg we can talk all the time!!!1!" We weren't alone in our excitement. First released in 1997, AIM was a popular way for millions of people to communicate throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it helped form Internet culture and communication as we know them today. It's where so many of us became fluent in LOL-ing and emoticons, and caught the itch to stay in constant contact with others no matter where we are.
Microsoft's Bing search engine and Cortana digital assistant might not change that much from day to day, but behind the scenes they're getting smarter--integrating factual insights from more sources, including the opinions of Reddit users. At an AI-focused event in San Francisco, Microsoft showed off a number of improvements, all geared towards increasing the "intelligence" of Bing, Cortana, and Microsoft Office. Why this matters: Calling out some of these behind-the-scenes upgrades helps Microsoft demonstrate its unique attributes, and thus relevance, among the competing AI-based platforms of Amazon, Apple, and Google. Bing already lets you comparison shop for similar items across the web. Now you can isolate an object in a photo and shop for it.
A Facebook civic hackathon has inspired open data leaders in Seattle to plan for new machine learning apps and algorithms for 2018. In collaboration with city government, Facebook invited teams of technologists from local tech companies like Amazon to try their hand at civic tech. The Facebook hackathon pointed the coders at the city's open data platform, and pitted teams against each other with the goal of solving the city's toughest challenges with machine learning. David Doyle, Seattle's open data program manager, said the apps that resulted have convinced the coordinators that machine learning must play an influential role in the city's open data program. "As we enter 2018, we are encouraging all departments to think about how to potentially leverage opportunities to apply machine learning to their current and future open datasets based on the two use cases that emerged from the hackathon," Doyle told StateScoop.
Read about use cases and practical tips for bringing AI to the enterprise in a chapter excerpt from "Getting Started with Artificial Intelligence." In this episode of the O'Reilly Media Podcast, I sat down with Josh Zheng and Tom Markiewicz, developer advocates for IBM Watson. We discussed how natural language processing (NLP) APIs, and chatbots in particular, represent just one of the ways AI is augmenting humans and boosting productivity in enterprises today. In order to apply AI to the enterprise, Zheng and Markiewicz explain, developers first need to understand the importance of sourcing and cleaning the organization's data, much of which is coming in unstructured formats like email, customer support chats, and PDF documents. This can be "unglamorous" work, but it's also critical to building a successful NLP app, or chatbot.
Remember the saying, "there's an app for that"? It may be the case that there are too many apps for that these days. The number of available apps in the Google Play store was placed at 3.3 million in September 2017. Apple's App Store is the second-largest app store with 2.2 million available apps. In such a cluttered space, even the best apps struggle to find an audience.
Many, perhaps most, online businesses now offer "live chat" as a customer service option. Rather than calling or emailing with your support questions, live chat means you can speak to a customer service rep via instant messaging. This option is convenient and easy, and customers like it: live chat has the highest reported satisfaction rating (73%) of any customer service channel. But it's only the beginning. It's part of a wider trend known as conversational commerce that's set to transform the world of digital commerce in the years to come.