The rise of artificial intelligence

Paige Bennett

Artificial intelligence is everywhere.

While some may think about artificial intelligence and imagine a future of self-driving cars and robot caregivers, the technology is already being used by millions of people on a daily basis. Companies such as Netflix and Amazon deploy artificial intelligence algorithms to make personal recommendations for users.

So, what is artificial intelligence and how is it being developed?

Utilizing a combination of scientific strategies, artificial intelligence researchers look to create human intelligence with machines, said Arvind Bansal, a professor in the department of computer sciences.

“We want to simulate it using mathematical techniques, psychological techniques,” Bansal said. “It’s a combination of many fields.”

Interest in artificial intelligence, AI, surged in the 1950s, when researchers began to develop computer programs that could compete with humans in chess and checkers matches, said L. Gwenn Volkert, an associate professor in the department of computer sciences.

“These programmed machines were finding strategies that worked,” Volkert said. “They weren’t just randomly moving. They were learning.”

As AI’s popularity increased, it began to adopt a larger role in society. From virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa to the data analysis tools used by businesses, AI fulfills basic functions of everyday life, Bansal said.

“The need has continuously grown,” Bansal said. “Earlier, people thought AI was more like a toy. It’s no longer a toy. It’s becoming a necessity in society.

As human reliance on AI increases, so do the concerns. Some people fear expansions in AI will result in massive job losses worldwide. With a wider availability of technology, 21st century researchers have been able to use AI to conduct work in a variety of different fields, Volkert said.

“AI takes jobs when we can create a method to encode a process,” Volkert said. “The main reason that we can do that with all these kinds of processes now is because of the speed, lower price and efficiency of the computer devices.”

AI will take on positions held by people as it continues to develop, Bansal said.

“As intelligence comes, and it can emulate the jobs, you’ll find that those jobs will be replaced,” Bansal said.

However, not all of AI’s effects on the workforce will be negative, Volkert said. Industrial robots can replace humans working in dangerous environments, making conditions safer, Volkert said.

Although AI is still evolving, Volkert does not believe it will dramatically affect society any time in the near future.

“We do not have anything close to a technology that can be released to the general public,” Volkert said.

Once changes start to occur, adjusting to them will be difficult, Bansal said.

“In the transition period, there will be a lot of upheaval because it takes time for people to train themselves,” Bansal said. “Technology is changing at a much faster rate than humans can adjust to.”

However, Bansal believes humans will adjust to the changes caused by AI and learn to use them to their advantage.

“They will adapt,” Bansal said. “They will use this technology, and we will all evolve.”

 

Paige Bennett is the Sciences Reporter. Contact her at [email protected]