AI means different things to different people. In the west many people first really thought about AI through watching films like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ or ‘I, Robot’, or the ‘Terminator’ movies. In those movies, the AI are seen as the bad guys. Movies like Steven Spielberg’s ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ showed us AI could suffer if they become consumer items and are thrown away. Japan’s media and view of AI has always been more positive, showing AI helping humanity achieve a better future.
To get a bit more technical, machine learning has been around for a long time, since the 1980s. The concept in a nutshell is a computer program will make a choice about an outcome based on weighting. We do this too; if we are trying to decide if we should have a burger or a salad for lunch our hunger for the burger may be greater than our desire for the healthy salad, this may be expressed as 60% burger and 40% salad. The choice here is a burger. Machine Learning (ML) operates in a similar way, an algorithm is able to see what actions deliver the desired outcome and repeat those actions more commonly. Of course, the more the algorithm can be tested, and the more data it has, the more accurate the ‘best result’ becomes.
With the advent of ‘Big Data’, the term used for large amounts of information generated on the internet, we can now plug a huge amount of this data into machine learning algorithms. These algorithms can be found on social media sites automatically moderating users or showing them adverts, they can predict what we want to buy on sites like Amazon. Machine learning can also predict when a component in a machine will fail, or what music we want to listen too. There are so many applications it would take ages to list them all, but AI is playing a bigger role in our lives every day.
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I bet many readers are thinking the kinds of AI we see these days aren’t really the Mr Data kind we see in StarTrek, and that’s very true. The kind we have, as of writing are Narrow AI, also called Weak AI. Narrow AI can be extremely effective at one or two tasks, such as creating a human face or predicting the correct response to a spoken request, but it is unable to do things it has not been trained to do.
A General AI would, in theory, be able to apply itself to any task. For example, a program could write other programs, start new companies, cure diseases, or take over the world.
I believe the latter is closer to the truth. A super AI would have the ability to make itself better, and the motivation to do so. It would be able to develop new code and make improvements to its own intelligence. This means that it would be able to improve itself, faster and more effectively than any human ever could.
To understand why we need to talk about Moore’s Law.
Moore’s Law is a simple concept. It says that the amount of transistors in a computer chip will double every two years. This means that computers will get faster, smaller, and cheaper every two years. This has been the case for the last 50 years, and there’s no reason to think it will stop.
Moore’s Law has allowed us to build computers that are getting more and more powerful. We have reached a point where a single computer can run an entire city.
That segment was written by OpenAI, an AI which is being actively developed, which is owned by Microsoft. Open AI and similar programs will make it far simpler for people working in any text-based role to get inspiration for new topics.
AI may change how civilisation works in the coming decades. As computing power becomes cheaper, we’ll likely see more and more services emerge which are being controlled by AI. For example, the more connected our world gets, the more we will see AI being used to automate routine tasks. This may be something like an AI doing your taxes or maybe you could book a hotel room or a restaurant reservation via a chatbot.
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