When buzzwords like ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Machine Learning’ are the latest office topic, do you A) nod awkwardly and quickly google ‘AI’ or B) churn out a mention of Tesla and Elon Musk or C) confidently state that most jobs will be done by robots in 30 years?

Artificial Intelligence

If you chose a) or b) this article is for you.  If you chose c) continue reading as you learn something new every day!

What is Artificial Intelligence really?

The chances are that you are already using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in your everyday life.  If you use SIRI, use a GPS or watch Netflix, AI is in play.  AI is making the decisions for you, based on the data it is being fed. You might feel that you are in total control, but you are not. And these applications are literally your ‘virtual assistants.’ For example, Spotify registers the type of music you download and will suggest similar genres in their Discover Weekly playlist.  Whenever you use a GPS app to navigate your around, AI has a hand in the route it suggests.  The app uses an extensive amount of data from smartphones about speed, routes and traffic incidents. When you are calling an Uber, both the pricing and the car that matches your ride request is decided by AI.

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Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning

Loosely translated AI is computing hardware that can think for itself, and make decisions based on the data it is being fed. It performs tasks usually limited to humans. Some things you used to have to do yourself or call someone about, or visit a physical location for help with, can now be easily done by a computer.  Machine learning is one application of AI, but AI is a broader concept that has other uses, as well. Simply put, machine learning is a process by which a computer can learn a skill, whereas artificial intelligence refers to a computer that can “think” for itself without being programmed to do so.

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Will Artificial intelligence take over the world?

There is a common Myth that Robots will dominate people, and we’ll be under the command of artificial intelligence! Unless we start living a sci-fi movie, AI can’t be evil.  AI can get things horribly wrong, but it doesn’t make these mistakes out of an inherent wickedness.  AI only responds to what it has been programmed to do.

AI can also save people considerable time, money and error margins.

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Does Artificial Intelligence have human characteristics?

Although AI can perform almost all of what we can do for a certain job, it doesn’t mean it also possesses human qualities and characteristics.  There are some programmes that do feature a bit of emotion and character, like Siri and Amazon Alexa, but this is not organic. They are wired to respond in certain ways to display some ‘humanness’.

AI is already a much larger part of your life than you realise.


Will AI replace human jobs?

The million-dollar question!  Probably.  “Most jobs will be done by robots within 30 years leading to unemployment rates greater than 50 percent,” according to Professor Moshe Vardi of Rice University.  Many academics studying the field believe that ‘technological unemployment’ will open the door to a future where work is something people do for pleasure, not out of necessity.

Just imagine that?

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Original Article first appeared on www.standardmedia.co.ke