Artificial intelligence goes mainstream

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These days, it seems like you can’t go anywhere without hearing or reading about artificial intelligence. From major news headlines, to the workplace, and even at home - ahem, Alexa - AI is inescapable. And while it’s fair to say the general population has its reservations about artificial intelligence, we are now reaching a point where AI is folding into our daily lives to create and facilitate endless possibilities.

As the techniques and platforms used to build AI technologies are becoming easier to use, the barrier to entry for using said technologies is being lowered, thrusting AI into the mainstream. What’s most important to note is that while these technologies advance, artificial intelligence is a technology best used to work alongside humans, helping us make better informed decisions and increase positive outcomes.

It used to be that only scientists and those in technology fields were well versed and familiar with AI. Nowadays however, others outside of those realms are beginning to understand what AI can do to make lives easier.

AI technologies can be applied to a number of industries, and we’ve seen it take off in places like transportation with self-driving cars, as well as marketing, finance, healthcare, and cybersecurity. And these areas of growth are not limited to just the United States. As distant as Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, solar powered robot traffic cops work to clear congested roads and keep pedestrians safe. Best part? These robots have a neutral demeanor and are not susceptible to bribes.

As AI becomes more mainstream, there is some concern that AI will begin to replace humans in the workplace. And while we see job automation on the rise, we know that AI can never truly replace a human - it’s a technology best used to help humans work smarter. We see this across a variety of industries, particularly in information security and finance.

For example, a mere second delay in reaction time can lead to malicious code entering your system, resulting in a massive and costly data breach. And not only could your company’s data be at risk, but as we’ve seen most recently with the Yahoo! breaches, you could also compromise the information of more than a billion of your users.

Thankfully, we are seeing more AI technologies incorporated into the security, financial, and healthcare industries to simultaneously work alongside humans to eliminate errors and stop malicious code from executing.

One of the things being talked about in the industry right now is the affordability of cloud computing, along with the hardships associated with dissecting big data sets. With AI, processing big data and running intense algorithms to build models on that data has never been easier. Big data and cloud computing are driving this market explosion and need for AI’s assistance.

We’ve seen the benefit of applying AI in the healthcare industry with IBM’s use of a cloud-based AI technology to diagnose a woman with a rare form of leukemia that doctors could not catch. By compiling vast amounts of research data on leukemia from international organizations, IBM Watson was able to provide a critical diagnosis.

The current observations of artificial intelligence are often blown out of proportion. Science fiction movies and television exaggerate its capabilities, noting its power and intelligence over humans. But that’s simply not the case. As we come to find ways to harness the power of artificial intelligence, we are learning more and more about how it helps a wide range of industries, and consumers, make better informed decisions.

Some may argue that AI is making things better, though some think it makes things worse (case in point: the self-driving car). As artificial intelligence gets pushed into our everyday lives, and various industries and technologies, we'll see more people come to terms with it and trust it. For now though, while we may be nowhere near “artificial general intelligence," "artificial narrow intelligence” is being deployed to solve a wide swath of problems.

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