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Just What Is Artificial Intelligence?

It’s the de-facto feature of the 21 century. It’s driving innovation from business to healthcare. Some may even be so bold as to argue it’s driving the fourth industrial revolution and the current worldwide political and social strife. Yes, we’re talking about artificial intelligence, usually referred to as A.I. But what do we mean when we say ‘”artificial intelligence,’ and what makes it uniquely special? You’ll likely get different definitions depending who you ask and what field you are discussing. In this week’s blog post, we’re going to do our best to give you a clean, clear explanation to the concept of A.I.

The Two Types of Artificial Intelligence


The term artificial intelligence might immediately bring to mind a robotic exoskeleton chasing after humans. In fact, Hollywood has done an excellent job of this. Fortunately – or unfortunately depending on your disposition – this is not what artificial intelligence typically refers to in IT or business. You see, there are two types of artificial intelligence: general and narrow.

The idea of fully autonomous programs or robots that can think, make, learn, and create across a wide variety of fields and subjects like a human is referred to as general A.I. While there are researchers working on general A.I., creating an autonomous homo sapien-esque program appears to be far away. Instead, software focuses on utilizing narrow A.I., which encompasses any computer-automated process designed to handle specific tasks. Google translate is one such example most of us are familiar with. In the case of the US’ most popular translation device, the automated task is to process text from one language to another. Not so scary, right?

A.I. In Industry


A.I. isn’t just for scientists hanging out in university departments. The push for data scientists, predictive analytics, and general automation in industry is helping to drive the recent surge in A.I. research and development. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that A.I. is transforming business.

Customer Service


The likelihood that anyone reading this blog hasn’t interacted with an automated voice message system in the year 2021 are slim. Although not terribly enjoyable, you are having an encounter with a form of A.I. – speech recognition whenever you interact with one of these digital secretaries. Similarly, if you have ever had a conversation with an automated chat bot when visiting a website, you are interacting with a text-to-text A.I. application.

Accounting


We’ve previously mentioned the limited nature of narrow A.I., but don’t doubt the usefulness of such constricted programs. In accounting, thousands of hours are saved each year of repetitive and menial tasks, increasing the productivity of bookkeepers everywhere. Algorithms can now automatically calculate, store, and visualize entered data and records. This opens time for opportunities that require the human-mind of an expert accountant.

Healthcare


One of the hottest growing fields around the world, A.I. is present in virtually every aspect of the medical sector, both inside and outside of the waiting room. Common tasks include aiding in diagnosis and treatment suggestions, even aiding in surgery. Most impressive of all, computers are now able to aid in medical research and discoveries that would otherwise be out of reach for contemporary science.

Finance


Being one of the earlier adopters of A.I., the financial sector is no stranger to the benefits of automated assistance. Almost 35 years ago, banks started using neural networks to help prevent and detect fraud. Now, artificial intelligence systems can maintain business operations overnight, forecast future growth and decay, and even make investments!

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