Artificial intelligence (AI) makes difficult tasks possible, such as sorting and recognising patterns in incredibly large data sets. The most challenging problems often have unexpected input and are often referred to as AI-compete or AI-difficult, implying the need for human-like computation.
While some might think of AI as technology mostly used for complex visual tasks – or even as a far-fetched concept only found in science fiction – it’s used in more ways than most people realise.
For example, AI powers many of our most mundane tasks, from finishing our sentences to choosing a restaurant for dinner. That raises the question: could modern society get by without this fast-growing technology?
>See also: 4 crucial skills for surviving in a world with artificial intelligence
History of AI
Depending on the source, some claim AI has been around since ancient times, when the Greeks had myths about robots, and engineers from Egypt and China built automatons.
But the modern AI industry as we know it was formally founded when the term was coined at a conference in 1956. Over the years, AI saw many ups and downs, both in the U.S. and abroad, in terms of funding until the industry really began to take off in the late 1990s when advanced computational hardware, seemingly unlimited memory capacity and new neural network techniques all came together.
The first major milestone in modern AI was when IBM’s Deep Blue became the first computer to beat a reigning world chess champion in 1997. In another significant feat for IBM, its question answering system,
Watson, defeated two of the world’s greatest Jeopardy champions by a large margin. These and other advancements combined advanced engineering skills and powerful computers to set up the AI industry for the success it’s seeing today.
Common applications for AI
Specifically in regards to how we interact with our mobile devices, there’s no denying that AI has become a part of our everyday lives. AI makes human-to-machine interactions easier than ever before and many consumers likely even find the technology to be indispensable.
Cortana, Google Now and Siri are the most well-known virtual assistants in use today. Natural language processing (NLP) or voice recognition enable personal assistants to help mobile device users map out directions, text a contact, make a phone call, find nearby restaurants, play music and more.
In addition to using personal assistants for day-to-day activities, many consumers are using them to make the workplace more efficient. On the job, virtual assistants can search emails for the most relevant information, set reminders for upcoming meetings and record phone calls for future reference.
AI also powers virtual assistants to eventually predict users’ needs, making tasks more efficient than ever before. For example, by setting a reminder to pick up notebooks at Staples, virtual assistants can speak up and tell the user to stop next time he or she is near a Staples store.
Writing is the most natural and common input method to capture thoughts, take notes or develop new ideas. Consumers are constantly connected to their smartphones and tablets and, therefore, turn to these devices to take quick notes, find directions, track grocery lists and more.
Handwriting input is an intuitive method to enter this information as long as handwriting recognition (HWR) converts the input notations into digital form. HWR is incorporated into premiere vehicles to minimise distractions by allowing drivers to enter information in the cockpit without taking their eyes off the road.
HWR is also a more intuitive input method than typing on a keyboard, which consumes a large portion of the screen, obscuring information. HWR enables users to “write” digitally on a touchscreen, either using a finger, stylus or other form of input. It converts handwriting into meaningful information, using AI to understand and interpret what the writer is intending, so the digital ink can be processed, searched, shared and stored as easily as a digital document.
>See also: How artificial intelligence is growing up
HWR has many practical tasks, including in the classroom – so students can retain information better than through typing on computer – and in the workplace for more efficient note taking. It’s is not limited to only characters but also eases the creation of diagrams, org charts or entering of math equations – all just as easy as writing it down on paper.
Allowing the digital ink to be interactive and edited in a similar manner to all other digital information will be the next advance in ink management to enhance the value of digital writing still further.
What’s in store for AI?
Today, AI empowers users to interact with their devices using simple touch, voice and gesture commands. The possibilities for AI are endless and market growth shows no signs of slowing down.
Research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch projects the AI market to reach $153 billion in spending by 2020, compared to $58 billion in 2014. According to the same report, some projected AI technologies in the coming years include autonomous cars (such as the ones already being tested by Google), industrial automation using virtual or augmented reality, robo-advisors in the financial services industry, robots used for predictive analytics, personal care bots in the healthcare industry, and autonomous drones used by the military and delivery services.
AI has come a long way and continues to reach more consumers – and power more tasks, both complex and mundane – as the technology progresses.
Sourced from Gary Baum, VP of marketing, MyScript