There is a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (Al). If you are working in the technology industry no doubt you have heard about Artificial Intelligence , Machine learning and so on . And even if you have not heard about it you most likely are using AI already.
Is this another hype which will fail to deliver on all the promises? AI has seen its bubbles before. Some may remember the rise of expert systems in the early 80s which was the name for AI solutions back then. The promises were high as was the stock valuation of the leading companies . Expert systems seemed to the future but in the mid 80’s the bubble busted. The software could not deliver on expectations . So do we see another AI bubble today ? I don’t think so. There are fundament differences and I believe AI or cognitive computing is here to stay. And not only that, it will fundamentally change our life.
So what has changed? There is the availability of computing power. In the last few years technologies like cloud computing have made computing power ubiquitous and there is basically not limit. Thanks to Moore’s law which is still going strong the power we have at hand today is so much higher than even 5 years ago – not even talking about the 80s. Even more important for the development of AI is the availability of data. For AI systems to work (and learn) the availability of large data sets is a key requirements. In the 80s this was very limited (most of the time only a few experts provided data). Today we have massive data sets available in many areas. Internet and the data warehouses , personal and corporate data, electronic books and records, sensor data, and so on. All this data can be used to train AI systems. And it is growing exponentially. Last but not least the software has improved as well. We now have neural networks with multiple layers allowing computers to win against humans in chess, IBM Watson to win Jeopardy against the all time champions and most recently Google Deepmind has beaten the world champion in Go. Many of us use AI based systems on our smartphones and devices (think Siri or Alexa for example) today.
As with all new technologies there is uncertainty and fear. There is hype and overpromises. But AI is here to stay. It will influence our future as no technology before. It is very important for all of us to better understand what AI is all about. No matter if you are working in IT or not. There will be massive changes coming to us, be it in our companies, our personal life’s or our society. Therefore education about the AI technologies, the opportunities and risks that come with it, the consequences for private and public life is critical.