What Is Artificial Intelligence and what Can it Do?

Artificial intelligence (AI) involves the simulation of human intelligence by machines. It aims to substitute, supplement and augment tasks currently performed by people. Over the last few years, several industrial applications for AI have been developed that have the potential to revolutionize how businesses organize the workplace and human performance.

We can now build systems that can learn how to perform tasks on their own. The aim of this technological revolution is to increase productivity, efficiency and flexibility.

What Can AI Do Today?

As of 2017, AI is now capable of understanding human speech, competing at the highest level in strategic games (such as chess), self-driving cars, assisting doctors with medical diagnosis and treatment, and fraud detection in the banking industry. Let’s look at some of the many current applications of AI.

AI Applications

Voice recognition: Millions of people now use applications that rely on voice recognition. Examples include virtual personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, which use voice queries to answer questions, make recommendations and perform other tasks for users. Other companies in various industries are developing virtual personal assistants to improve customer service online.

Image recognition: Facebook and other apps now recognize many of your friends’ faces in posted photos and will prompt you to tag them with their names. In the future, iris and facial recognition will be used increasingly to identify employees and customers and eliminate the need for passwords.

Healthcare: AI is breaking into the healthcare industry by assisting doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. For example:

  • Chatbots with speech recognition capability are being used in healthcare to identify patterns in patient symptoms to help diagnose and prevent disease, and recommend an appropriate course of medical treatment.
  • Algorithms are being developed that can recognize cancerous tissue at a level comparable to trained physicians.
  • Machine learning technologies are being developed to enhance pathology, which is the diagnosis of disease based on lab analysis of bodily fluids and traditionally done with microscopes.
A physician uses a clinical support system based on artificial intelligence for medical diagnosis.

Automotive Industry: Advancements in AI have led to the creation of self-driving vehicles. As of 2016, there were over 30 companies using AI to help create driverless cars. These vehicles incorporate systems such as braking, lane changing, collision prevention, navigation and mapping. Companies involved in the development of self-driving vehicles include Tesla, Google and Apple.

Finance: Financial institutions have long used AI to detect banking charges outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. Banks use AI to detect the unauthorized use of debit cards or fraud.

In the investment industry, AI is used in the stock market in applications such as online trading and decision making.

Travel: Expedia uses AI to deliver accurate flight search results and overcome the challenge that flight itineraries and schedules are constantly changing. This allows its ‘best fare search’ service to learn and adapt constantly. In the future, Expedia wants to enable customers to make travel queries by talking to virtual personal assistants.

The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade, as many industries, healthcare and education take advantage of AI applications.

ISPI Montreal will be holding a panel discussion on the “Impact of AI on Performance” on May 31. For more information about the event, click here.

For more information about how AI will is expected to impact the workplace and performance, you can watch the following TED talks videos:

Anthony Goldbloom, “The jobs we’ll lose to machines and the ones we won’t:”

Tom Gruber, “How AI can enhance our memory, work and social lives:”

Sebastian Thrun, “Google’s driverless car:”

Sebastian Thrun and Chris Anderson, “The new generation of computers is programming itself:”