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Is Artificial Intelligence Really "The Next Big Thing"?

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Whenever we talk about the innovations of science, we are forced to think about the idea behind it, the thought that gave birth to an imagination that is now part of the reality (well, almost!). One such miracle of science is ‘Artificial Intelligence", the idea of which was invented almost 62 years ago on the campus of Dartmouth College by Professor John McCarthy along with a group of computer aficionados and mathematicians who predicted a machine that would work as logically as the reasoning of an intelligent human brain. All the cognitive functions of human brain such as perceiving, recognition, understanding and processing of communication with other human beings, reasoning, learning, problem solving, maintaining balance to moving things and all the things in surrounding environment, no matter where you are or whatever it is that you see or do, all that study of neuron science and human intelligence is professed by intelligent machines to simulate the same functions as humans perform while also eliminating the possibility of human errors, hence the name ‘Artificial Intelligence'.


Ever since its commencement in 1956, the Artificial Intelligence is not just limited to science fiction movies anymore but has steered in every field possible. Whether its production to warehouse units, Netflix to talking assistants, robotic maids to ordering food, e-commerce, digital communication, fashion, military & defense, data mining, education, automation or medical field, the nuances of AI have never ceased to amaze us (and hopefully, will never do?!)


We use artificial intelligence in our day to day life more than we realize. Ever wondered why we have recommendations that sync with our needs while we are surfing the internet? Well, that is because of the algorithms used by artificial intelligence based on our recent searches. The algorithm helps to generate suitable recommendations grounded in our browsing history. Similarly, you go to a website, there are helping assistants, known as chatbots to guide you through the process, you ask them a question and they have automated replies based on the matching keywords of questions asked by other customers. Virtual assistant Alexa by Amazon, Cortana by Windows, Siri by Apple, Google assistant are some of the chatbots that work on voice recognition to reduce our effort of typing and make our search a worthwhile experience. The first among these virtual assistants was Siri (initially released in 2011) is an 'easier to use voice assistant' which listens to your voice commands and comes up with a solution. From doing the mathematical calculations to telling the temperature outside, putting an alarm or a reminder, getting a route for your destination while traveling, calling a number or typing a text, Siri is nothing but your E-Bae. Siri will even sweep you off your feet with sarcastic cum humor-filled answers to your imbecile questions that will elevate your mood instantly while it will also guide you through your desperate times of needing medical attention by finding the required helplines. But despite all these features, it is only limited to Apple users as compared to Google Assistant which is an open platform application and came into the picture in May 2016, much later than Siri. Google Assistant have almost the same features but only better as it can be used in vast range of products and is easily available to be augmented by third-party developers and is further anticipated to dominate the overall chatbots available in the market in upcoming years. Google Assistant engages in two-way conversations and evolves with time, the more we use it, the more it gets equipped with our needs with respect to our search criteria. The technological advancements in chatbots are paving a way for many large-scale companies and social networking sites to adopt chatbots. According to a survey by Research Nester, a leading service provider for strategic market research and consulting, the estimated valuation of chatbots market around the globe was USD 88.5 Million in 2015 which is further expected to upsurge in the years to come.


Where the health is concerned, Artificial Intelligence is a blessing that has transformed the vision of the medical and healthcare field. AI medical assistants help the doctors to access their patient's medical history along with the latest medical development in that field which further improves the quality of care, reduce human errors while doctors earn extra time for development. With everything going tech-savvy these days, AI eliminates the need of hospitals visits and human errors in maintaining records by letting the patients submit their data online, hence saving both their time and money. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are millions of people who cannot approach the most basic healthcare services. According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, "Artificial intelligence can greatly improve our response to disease outbreaks through enhanced early warning, forecasting epidemics, improved decision-making for outbreak response and simulation tools."


The great inventions of AI in the field of medical science are Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) which is designed to support physically disabled people to help them with their arms, legs and torso; ingestible origami robot which is controlled by the external magnetic field to retrieve needed things out of the body. Many such technologically advanced AI innovations are expected to drive the medical industry to new heights in years to come.


We have witnessed so many innovations from artificial intelligence this far, for instance, Sophia from Hanson Robotics- the world's first robot citizen; Eugene Goostman- imitation of a 13 year old from Ukraine that passed the Turing test while faking the judges into believing that he was a real boy; Nao – the humanoid that can exhibit emotions and sense body language and facial expressions; IBM's Watson- a question-answer computer system for business sector and Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems also known as LAWS and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)- used for military applications among many others.


From 3D printers to autonomous cars, gaming consoles such as Xbox360 to learning and drawing, music to exploring melodies, teaching languages to supporting Morse codes drone mine detectors such as Mine Kafon Drone (MKD) with 3D mapping, metal detection and robotic arm to place tennis ball sized detonators to detonate the bombs , you will find AI in almost everything, you name it and you will find it. The more we dig into AI, the more we will find the fascinating innovations along with the controversies related to it. There is hardly any field that could possibly get away from the clutches of Artificial Intelligence. With this, comes the concern which is plaguing the mind of everyone concerned with the boom in Artificial Intelligence. Not only will it decrease the employment for many people but is also a threat to our existence, knowing everything about AI is intelligently programmed even when it comes to autonomous weapons, the control of which, if led to the wrong hands can create more human loss than profit. According to Jack Ma, chairman and founder of Alibaba, AI and other technologies will cause "more pain than happiness" among humans over the next three decades. "Machines should only do what humans cannot," he said. "Only in this way can we have the opportunities to keep machines as working partners with humans, rather than as replacements."


Every technology has a dark side and could possibly end badly if the safety warnings are not considered. It might feel good to have someone (technically ‘something') who will understand whatever there is that you would want to say or do but then again, a consistency like that might be an added advantage in doing mechanical or computerized tasks but might also fail as long as human brains don't get equipped with something that doesn't change despite being available and ingenious all the time and even if our brains adapt to that change, what good will be left of our human existence?!

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