We've all seen those movies which are centred around artificial intelligence in some way or another. They're often designed to scare us half to death about the prospect of being enslaved by robots. Whether it's Alex Proyas' 2004 effort I, Robot or the more recent Academy award winning Ex Machina starring Alicia Vikander, which has made you question everything you know about modern technology, no-one is quite sure just how close (or far away) we are from having life-sized robots in our very homes. One thing we can state with confidence however is that AI is very real, and it's already here. OK, not quite in the form of a 6-foot silver surfer lookalike running around creating havoc, but more along the lines of AI and machine learning algorithms as a way of enriching various different industries and powering smartphones to make them more secure and most importantly more efficient.
The Current Uses and Strengths of AI Technology
With the rate at which AI is currently progressing, developers are always on the lookout to find innovative, new ways to get the most out of the technology. With that being said, AI has both learned and perfected a number of different tasks and activities across many different industries and continues to push the boundaries in order to improve our every day lives. And they're already here.
When it comes to travel, there have been significant developments with regards to artificial intelligence. Perhaps the best known exponent of this is the American multinational firm Tesla, who has become a household name in the electric vehicle market and continue to lead the way when it comes to incorporating AI into their models. Founder and CEO of Tesla Elon Musk recently revealed that he believes his cars could be fully autonomous by April 2019. With luxury travel concierge companies such as Boxever and John Paul also using AI to understand and cater for customers desires on a more intimate, bespoke level, the travel and transport industry is certainly benefiting from the rapidly advancing technology more than most.
Almost all video games make use of artificial intelligence in some way or another – most commonly, this is used the give the user non-human opponents in single player games modes for example. While there have been many textbook examples of AI being used to great effect in classic games such as EA's The Sims or the 2005 horror based first person shooter F.E.A.R, modern day game designers are constantly coming up with new ways to integrate algorithmic thinking into their titles.
Tom Clancy's The Division, for example, received plaudits for its AI-driven cover system, which allowed users to concentrate on their tactics while their player automatically sprinted to cover. Technology has also been refined to make opponents much more life-like, unpredictable and difficult to overcome. Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation used AI which made the eponymous space creature almost impossible to second-guess and provided a level of tension which had never been previously seen in the franchise.
Elsewhere in the gaming world, a program named Libratus has been relentlessly beating down professional poker players at the Rivers Casino in Chicago and has seemingly perfected – or "solved" – to use AI terms, the game of blackjack. Machines have already proven that they are capable of convincingly beating human opponents when it comes to games such as chess (having learned and perfected it in 72 hours no less) and Go, but AI's triumph in the poker arena is far more impressive due to the fact that poker is a game full of incomplete information.
When playing the games of chess and Go, players are able to see the entire board but with games such as poker and blackjack, it's impossible to know what hand your opponent has until the cards are placed face down on the table. In addition to this, AI is required to interpret various bluffs and deliberately misleading information in order to come out on top. As explained Betway Casino, when playing blackjack games the rules and concepts such as doubling down and splitting are fairly simple to pick up but hard to master – this is the most fertile ground possible for algorithm-based AI technology but requires a probabilistic model approach which will allow the software to make decisions based on the cards that have already been dealt or the probability that the dealer has a superior hand for example.
In February of 2018, the music world waited with baited breath to see if the charts were about to be topped by the first-ever AI number 1 song. While this didn't happen, the very fact that we're even having this conversation goes a long way to show that the technology is rapidly evolving and branching out into industries we wouldn't have even thought were possible 10 years ago.
Spotify and also Pandora have quite possibly some of the most high tech artificial intelligence around at the moment. The technology is used to identify a user's "musical DNA" and then recommend similar tracks based on the ones you're already listening to. Sounds simple enough on the surface but any users of Pandora will attest to the fact that they're now listening to and enjoying songs which they would have previously avoided at all costs – this alone is proof positive that the algorithms used by music platforms are some of the most complex but effective out there in the tech world at present.
The Limits of Current AI
If you feel like we're about to be taken over by robots then fear not – there are certainly a fair few areas where the technology currently falls short. Unfortunately, with the rate at which artificial intelligence is progressing, it won't be long before we're all slaves in our own home and giving our masters rust-preventing oily massages. (Kidding. But not really).
Due to the intricate nature of most modern machines, development, maintenance and repair is still pretty costly so it'll be a long time before robotic devices become commonplace in the home. However, when it comes to the incorporating of AI technology within already existing hardware and software, we're already well on the way to making it a more cost-effective exercise. AI is emotionless. We know what you're thinking – this applies to many humans you know as well.
While this point is more specifically aimed at AI with regards to the creation of "sentient" beings, it's important to remember that's the direction that we're headed and the decision-making process relating to AIs is still a hurdle that needs to be overcome if they are to become a big part of our future. Finally, the innate intuitive capabilities of the human brain are hard to replicate. If we're talking about efficiency then there's no doubt that AI trumps most human beings hands down. However, when it comes to originality and creativity, the human brain still remains the most powerful tool we have at our disposal – although, Facebook may well disagree with this point after their latest AI went rogue and invented its own language. Nevertheless, humans created artificial intelligence and that in itself required a lot of effort and imagination.
Hate It or Love It, AI Is Here To Stay
There's no doubt that artificial intelligence is being used to improve our lives in almost every aspect and the aforementioned examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The technology is being used throughout the healthcare industry to give patients a better chance of recovery for example, or to assist doctors when performing complex surgery. As long we take due care and attention with regards to the development of AI and don't rush things, then the possibilities are endless and there's no telling where we'll be within the next 20 years or so.