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Artificial Intelligence & the Electricity Metaphor

The latter half of the 19th century was a monumental time for us — the first-time electricity was produced and used end-to-end. Now a mundane, overlooked phenomenon, the ability to produce and send an invisible source of power thousands of miles across was unthinkable but now it’s, arguably, the single most important innovation that drives progress and growth. However, it seems we’re sitting at the cusp of a second such revolution, one which will have a similar — if not grander — impact on human growth: Artificial Intelligence.



(Teck2Today, 2019)


The Rise of Automated Learning


It may seem premature to compare an infant technology to the giant that is electricity, but the endless applications of artificial intelligence push one to imagine the seemingly impossible. From simple machine learning algorithms such as linear regression to generative adversarial nets and everything in between, AI is covering ground at a pace no one would have suspected a decade ago.

  • Transportation: AI is powering the self-driving car — a technology with the ability to transform the transportation system. Moreover, other applications include route mapping and travel time reduction.

  • Manufacturing: Autonomous robots are allowing factories to optimize their work process. Likewise, 3D rendering technology and machine vision are playing a pivotal role in transforming how manufacturing works.

  • Healthcare: Artificial intelligence backed applications like autonomous surgical robots, virtual-nursing assistants, rapid image diagnosis, and dosage error reduction are just some of ways in which healthcare is becoming more inclusive and efficient.

  • Entertainment: Personalize adverts, viewing recommendations and automated CGI have become fundamental parts of the entertainment industry — all the product of artificial intelligence.

  • Sports: AI technology like automation and predictive analysis is heavily employed in business decisions, sponsorship activations, ticket sales, and determining athletic performance.

In line with horizontal AIs such as Siri and Alexa, the above mentioned vertical specific use-cases are just some of the many where artificial intelligence is enabling users to leap into the future.


The Challenges Up Ahead


Even the accelerating pace of automated learning systems is not immune to troughs. Lines getting blurred between autonomous and programmatic machines, biased data and power-hungry algorithms are keeping everyone from data scientists to policy makers on their toes.

Though artificial intelligence is yet to be guided and regulated by policy, it’s gradually — but surely — changing the legal landscape. This is imperative to ensure that the development of a revolutionary technology is for the benefit for everyone, not a select few. In line with this, the European Union has taken some great steps in that direction; On 2nd of February, 2020, the European Commission published its “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence - A European approach to excellence and trust” — a document outlining the path forward.


Moreover, making sure that the data algorithms learn from is not biased, malicious or pro-interest of any entity is becoming an increasingly hard problem to solve. Bias can slither into algorithms in a multitude of ways. AI systems learn to make decisions based on training data, which can include biased human decisions or reflect social or historical inequities, even if sensitive variables such as race, gender or sexual orientation are removed. Therefore, it’s just as important as creating policies and guidelines around data as it is to create them around algorithms.

Finally, a physical obstacle that the next generation of algorithms are facing is limited computing power. With artificial intelligence systems getting more power hungry by the day and processors reaching the Newtonian limits of processing data (they’re simply getting so small that electrons are starting to pass through their conductive walls), developers and scientists are banking on the quantum computing leap that will allow algorithms to work with speed and efficiencies currently impossible.


Going Forward


It is certain that this algorithmic uprising will be one that will impact the world forever, a lot like electricity did. Yet, it’s important to make sure that this technology is developed in an inclusive, progressive and beneficial manner which will allow everyone — regardless of age, sex, race, class, religion, ethnicity, ability, language, sexual orientation, or gender — to be part of this revolution.


One can take a token from the recent rise on blockchain on how we can allow AI to be affected by everyone and not just corporations: decentralized AI systems. Currently, building deep learning and machine leanring models requires a highly skilled data scientist and tons of data but is about time we changed that. Neuralastic will be launching its product aimed at empowering everbody — individuals, small businesses to corporations — build, train and deploy AIs with the click of a button; and all of this will be easier than using a spreadsheet. Stay tuned.


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