What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a buzzword nowadays; but what exactly is AI and how are industries currently using it? The definition of artificial intelligence has morphed over time. In fact, according to CNBC, the first traces of AI date back to the mid-1950s with John McCarthy, a Dartmouth College professor. He claimed that the concept of artificial intelligence was “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” Essentially, he stated that AI is any task completed by a machine. With this in mind, AI has had a lot of varied definitions over the years and other terms are associated with AI, such as “machine learning,” which is when a program gathers statistics to “learn” data analysis, and “deep learning,” which, according to McKinsey & Company, is machine learning that can “process a wider range of data resources, requires less data preprocessing by humans, and can often produce more accurate results than traditional machine-learning approaches (although it requires a larger amount of data to do so).”

ZDNet sites that AI today is technology that “demonstrate[s] at least some of the following behaviors associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation, and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.” In other words, systems that complete tasks and do the thinking for you.

AI has grown in popularity as technology has gotten more sophisticated. Even though the discussion of AI and AI developments originated over fifty years ago, the majority of AI technology has been developed within the past decade. You’ve probably seen AI all around you without even recognizing it, such as Siri on Apple’s iPhones or Google Maps suggesting a faster commute time based on your frequent locations. CNBC sites that Google accelerated the development of AI in 2012 when they “trained a neural network with 16,000 central processing unit (CPU) chips on 10 million images from YouTube videos and taught it to recognize cats.” Six years down the road and AI development is popping up everywhere.

AI is going to become essential for the future of companies and there is more demand for this kind of machinery than ever before. Amazon, Google, Apple have already embraced AI and are utilizing it by “teaching” their machines to make customer predictions. For example, Amazon’s website/app can recommend products to consumers and they have also utilized AI in their Echo smart speakers, which can complete tasks through voice commands. Likewise, Apple’s smartphone keyboard will make emoji or word suggestions for you. Gmail just updated their settings and have implemented “smart replies” to emails, where their AI technology reviews an email, writes reply suggestions, and “nudges” you about emails that call for urgent replies. You can read more about Google’s updated email system here.

AI is transforming the way businesses operate and not just in areas of technology development. Forbes says that marketers can benefit from AI technology as well. They state that in the past, “Targeting individuals wasn’t possible, because nobody has the time or ability to review the actions of every person and determine the best way to reach that specific person. Now advertisers can craft and time messages tailored to each person’s behavior.”

AI can also assist companies with building teams and making companies as productive as possible. HR Daily Advisor interviewed our very own CEO and founder Phil Alexander and COO Frank Cho about Nexus AI, explaining how Nexus’ technology uses data to sieve through employees’ skill sets to determine which employee or group would best complete a project. A concern with AI is that this kind of technology will replace human jobs. Rather, Nexus is an example of AI that creates efficiency for companies by utilizing its internal employees. Additionally, as managers and team members fill out feedback forms based on the project they worked on together, the more Nexus technology learns, grows, and improves.

So what’s next for AI? Self-driving cars are constantly being developed, though the release of this kind of technology is still in the works. CNBC also says popular AI systems, such as Echo and Siri, will go through more updates. While there is a constant push and pull about these technological advancements replacing jobs, it also creates improvements and opportunities. Time will work through this tension. According to the Nexus team in the article above, “the misconception surrounding AI [is] that it’s here to replace humans. Nexus allows enterprises to better utilize their employees with A.I., allowing enterprises to overcome human capital management obstacles like workforces spanning multiple locations and biased staffing based off personal networks.”

While AI technology is still developing, it has opened doors for more efficient technology. Over time, AI will assist companies with mundane tasks that would otherwise unnecessarily take up employees’ time, such as answering thousands of emails a day. Naresh Soni of Tsunami ARVR states about AI for everyday use: “Smart homes will also reduce energy usage and provide better security, marketing will be more targeted and we will get better healthcare thanks to better diagnoses.” Based on the experts above, artificial intelligence’s entry into everyday life will ultimately make things easier, more organized, and far more productive in the long run.

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