Artificial intelligence is everywhere. We use it every single day and most of us don't even realize it. To define it simply, artificial intelligence, or “AI,” generally refers to a complex computer program or software that can perform activities that are normally completed using human intelligence and interpretation. Examples of AI include analyzing data, recognizing patterns, and predicting possible outcomes based on information that it is given to process. Humans have been interacting with AI on some level for a couple of decades now. Early AI planning began as far back as the 1950s but took much longer to come to “life.” AI is being utilized in industries that are both surprising and uncommon, yet the impact of AI is changing the way businesses function worldwide.
One way that AI has been used in business is for identifying issues in human based processes. Data are gathered and then fed to AI software, which then identifies breaks in the chain, or areas that are not performing at the expected rate. This can be the result of failures identified in both human production or mechanical equipment. The AI system learns patterns and can quickly identify a malfunction in machinery, or a decrease in output from a human employee. It can also help point out which employees have higher production in comparison to their coworkers. This type of AI is more common in industries that use a production or assembly line, like manufacturing and large scale food processing plants.
AI helps to resolve slowdowns, and keeps production lines moving at their most efficient rate. A human employee is responsible for identifying any issues that the AI reports, and this allows the issues to be corrected. With AI, this usually happens long before the error might have been noticed by human employees doing the analysis. A one-minute delay in a malfunctioning piece of equipment could cost a company a lot of money and would likely not be noticed as easily by a human employee, given the short amount of time lost. If this type of error went unnoticed for a year, the lost time would have a big impact. This kind of AI software can save companies thousands of dollars in lost production and manpower, so the cost of the programming would be well worth it.
AI is also used in many human service industries. Large hospital systems are now using robot like, AI driven machines to deliver supplies and medication throughout facilities, supply chains, pharmacies, and operating rooms. These machines are able to count and fill basic supplies using inventory management software and seeing where shortages exist. Often a bar code system is in use to help aid in the tracking of material, supplies and medication. Another way AI is used in hospitals is in the housekeeping department. Large machines that clean the floors are able to learn the physical environment, floor plan, furniture placement, and layout of the hospitals and facilities they are being used in.
Using this blueprint, the machine is able to navigate the halls and clean the floors without interfering with human employees, customers, or patients. It also avoids damaging walls, furniture, windows, and fixtures. These machines can use elevators, and also know areas to avoid like stairwells and patient rooms. This helps many companies save money in the long run, keeps their facilities clean, and fills a position that is often hard to fill with reliable employees. It also frees up existing employees to do more focused tasks in harder-to-reach areas that a machine cannot enter. AI will likely be used in more and more facilities in the years to come, especially given the worker shortage in many areas of employment.
Another impressive capability of AI is something called deep learning. With deep learning, the AI system has to work like a human brain. This is when the AI learns to process given data and identifies patterns and reactions of humans, in order to predict their next possible movement. The most common example of this type of AI is found within self-driving cars. The newest Tesla models use deep-learning AI, which has landed them in the news frequently the past several years. These cars use predictive behavior to avoid crashes, change lanes, obey traffic signs and speed limits, and navigate to the correct destination in the most efficient manner. Scientists, engineers, and computer programmers feed millions of bits of data into these systems to help them develop deeper reasoning. This cannot be obtained by entering formulas or numbers. Real-life scenarios have to be compared and entered into the system, so it can identify human reactions to a given set of circumstances. This can not be easily done because human behavior Is not reliably predictable. It takes far more data and behavior analysis for these computer systems to work properly.
Even after being given millions of real-life scenarios for analysis, there are mistakes made from time to time. Several accidents have occurred with the new self-driving Tesla cars. These accidents occurred because of a failure within the deep-learning predictive capability of the software. These types of accidents will help to correct the limitations within the software, but they come at a cost. There have been several fatalities involving Tesla self-driving cars. Unfortunately, humans still have to assist the supercomputer in making decisions, and many people have become too dependent on technology. This lack of attention can be fatal if paired with a deficiency in the software, as the computer is going to make some mistakes. However, data shows that AI-powered automobiles may still be safer than many human drivers. It’s very likely that the automobile accident rate would be almost eliminated if all drivers were using the same type of AI in their cars. At some point many years down the road, this is highly likely. Cars using AI will be able to communicate with each other so that little to no crashes occur. The weakness among self-driving cars does remind us that no technology is perfect and that improvements will always be needed.
AI is now routinely used throughout the world in a variety of settings and is even used by everyday people. One less obvious way AI is used is by high school or college students who run their book reports, essays, and research papers through processing software to evaluate the quality of their writing, grammar and punctuation usage, spelling errors, and plagiarism checks. This kind of editing and proofreading would normally take several hours, and require at least a couple of volunteers (which are not always easy to come by). Further, the quality of these evaluations are limited by the knowledge and skill of the evaluator. Oftentimes, the proofreader glazes over the topic and misses errors, especially if the topic is not interesting to them. AI is far more likely to accurately examine the submitted work and to find errors that might have been missed otherwise.
Artificial intelligence is a promising adjunct to the way society functions, especially in the area of business. As this technology improves and evolves, it will likely be utilized in many more applications. While some may view AI as a threat to the employment of humans in a variety of job settings, there is little evidence to show that AI has caused an increase in unemployment. On the contrary, AI has been quietly integrated into our lives, and the difference has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people are using this technology in their work environment or at home, without even realizing the improvements AI has made in their own lives and careers. Artificial intelligence will continue to have a positive impact on both humans and industry for many years to come.