16Jan

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic that’s taken over the tech world. It’s a creation that’s brought what we once viewed as a fantasy into our homes, hospitals and more.

It’s an advance that will unravel wild possibilities. But with possibilities, also comes hope that we’ll develop AI further for life saving uses.

First, let’s look at how we’re already publicly using Artificial Intelligence.

Google’s first home release is an AI personal assistant. This device is simply a home speaker, which resembles a more advanced version of Siri. It uses far field voice recognition to detect a person asking questions to which it responds. The device will begin interaction when it hears the words, “Okay Google.”

LED lights on the top of the device activate when the assistant is listening. You can ask it to do tasks such as, play music, control your smartphone devices and it also uses Google search technology to find answers to your questions through the internet.

Seems simple right? But once you actually break each task down, this device can remind you of appointments, add items onto your shopping lists, play your favourite songs at specific times, set a timer for your oven, even turn your lights on! Once given permission, this AI can scan emails, calendars, files and personal photos held on other apple devices.

Now let’s look at AI’s uses in medical advances.

AI developments have given amputees hope. Bionic limbs that are controlled through electrical impulses from the brain are being successfully trialled on numerous patients. The limb is able to do this due to sensors being embedded into the muscle tissue that connects the neural dots, wirelessly transmitting signals to the limb. This advance was created at the Reykjavik headquarters of prosthetics-maker, Ossur. This technology is completely groundbreaking and will benefit the next generation massively. You can view the product explainer video, here.

But these admirable advances raise the question of, what next?

One development that’s still in the early stages is the use of AI in medicine. It’ll be used as an interactive resource to aid diagnosis in hospitals. This will simply be a tool that can analyse data and take advantage of electronic medical records, transforming our surgeries from e-filing cabinets to doctor aids; which deliver high quality data in real time.

Some theories are still just possibilities built from educational guess work. Take Emeritus Professor of computer science, Thomas Dietterich as an example. He hopes that developments in AI will turn us into super humans.

Dietterich states: “For example, I hope that exoskeletons will allow me to walk when I am old and feeble. I hope that I can retain my sense of hearing and sight, even as my eyes and ears fail.”

Then there’s the obvious looming question; will these advances in AI will help us solve all of our world problems, including climate change? If we have systems that can read all of the data, millions of pages, these programmes could answer the most important questions based on facts.

Computer scientist, Stuart Russell states: “Everything we have of value as human beings, as a civilisation, is the result of our intelligence and what AI could do is essentially be a power tool that magnifies human intelligence.”

The idea of combining humanity and AI is fascinating, but also somewhat intimidating; and what of ethical repercussions? Could AI take over and mean the end of humanity as we know it? We’ve all seen the movies.

Stephen Hawking states, “In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not know yet which.”

The only thing that we know is that these advances in technology are outstanding and that they’ll have a massive impact on society.

Sir Francis Bacon stated in 1597, ‘Knowledge is Power’ so now in 2017 let’s hope this new found power is used wisely.