My degree was in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. Unfortunately, AI was a tough field to get a job in when I graduated, so I concentrated on the Computer Science part in the main. However, AI still fascinates me, and a lot of the “Big Data” movement is actually appropriating techniques from AI to filter and transform data, because of the fields in AI that study pattern recognition, feedback and learning, and application of structure onto data (think classifying pictures by their content, or detecting spam from a collection of email).
There’s a few news stories recently that I want to talk about over a series of posts, but first of all, I want to direct folk to this nice summary from Wired, which perfectly demonstrates an old truth in AI – that AI is the stuff we haven’t figured out yet. Once we understand it, it becomes Computer Science. The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World | WIRED
The article, is some ways, is many years too late, fraud detection systems are almost as old as credit cards, we’ve had spam filters for years, most humans are easily defeated by chess computers. Many of the things we used to hold as either evidence for intelligence, or super hard problems for computers to solve, have been solved. Those thresholds have passed, and our world is building of smart, learning systems, adapting to you, learning more about each of us to provide more tailored experiences, either for our benefit, or for the benefit of marketers.
There’s still plenty to learn, and it’s still an exciting field, but we’re no longer in a world where AI is “just around the corner”. Computers are smarter than us in many ways. General intelligence may still be unsolved, but practical intelligence is now part of the fabric of our lives. AI is not something to be scared of. It’s here, and it’s helping us. But like any technology, the ethical concerns are still a matter to be discussed.