Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) continue to be buzzwords today. Hardly surprising given their relevance in an increasingly technology-driven world. Let us look at the areas where they are used to get an understanding of their popularity. But before that let’s consider what AI and ML stand for.
AI is essentially the ability of a machine to show human-like capabilities such as reasoning, learning, planning and creativity. It allows technical systems to observe their environment, take in the knowledge and solve problems so as to achieve a particular goal. So an AI system is trained to adapt its behaviour to a certain extent by analysing the effects of previous actions and then working autonomously. It does so thanks to ML, a field of artificial intelligence that uses statistical methods to enable the computer system to learn (through repeatedly improved performance for a specific task) from data, without being explicitly programmed.
AI uses today
Today, AI comes in mainly two forms: one is the software aspect which includes virtual assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems, whereas the second form refers to embodied AI, as in robots, autonomous cars, drones, Internet of Things devices.
Between these two forms, AI is being used in various spheres of our day-to-day lives. For instance, it is used in online shopping and advertising to provide personalised recommendations to people, based on their previous searches and purchases. It is also used in web search since search engines use it to learn from the vast input of data they get from their users. Similarly, language translation software, based on both spoken or written text, uses AI to offer and improve translations and for automated subtitling. Today, cars use AI-powered safety functions and even navigation runs on AI. Ditto for smart homes and smart infrastructure; for instance, in case of the latter, developers of smart cities are looking to regulate traffic and enhance connectivity using AI. Digital personal assistants such as Alexa, Siri are already well known today for answering questions, providing personal recommendations and helping organise daily routines.
The above uses are just the tip of the iceberg for the scope of AI and ML remains to be fully explored. This is perhaps why more edtech programs are now offering ML and AI as part of their curriculum. At YoungWonks, kids and teens are taught tools used to build intelligent machines as part of their ML and AI for Kids and Youth course in Level 5. Students here learn SciPi, OpenCV, and TensorFlow, making it a great choice for high-schoolers and middle-schoolers who are proficient in Python.
With Artificial Intelligence (AI) permeating more aspects of our lives, it has become increasingly important to look at the possible repercussions of an increasing dependence on AI. The biggest issue perhaps would be the ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI.
What is of paramount importance is that such AI is trained to act as per certain ethics. Here’s where humans have a distinctive advantage over AI, because they are more discerning and have a clear idea of what is ethically right and what is not. A machine, however, cannot really distinguish between the two and that’s where the problem arises. In a world looking to AI for more and more tasks today, this is easily among the biggest risks. An AI with no sense of ethics becoming superior to humans is effectively dangerous to the whole of humankind.
The need for Open AI then stems from this concern. Founded by leading tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk (Tesla CEO) and Sam Altman (president, Y Combinator), OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence research company created to promote and develop friendly AI in order to benefit humanity. Its goal is to encourage safe ML and safe AI that is also impactful in a positive fashion. Microsoft’s cloud division and Indian IT company Infosys are among those taking part in OpenAI-led research.