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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