Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the ability of a computer running special software to act intelligently — perceiving new data, learning, drawing inferences, and solving problems. It allows computers to perform work that previously required human intervention. AI can handle all sorts of tasks, from simple ones like customer service chatbots and video game opponents to more complex ones like recommendation engines, stock market trading bots, and image generators.
Artificial intelligence uses algorithms to process data input that a computer receives. These algorithms analyze data to find patterns, then make predictions or classifications by comparing new inputs to those patterns. Many AIs train using machine learning, which provides them with large, curated data sets to help guide them toward the results the developers of the AI want.
Increasingly complex AI algorithms require increasingly-powerful computer hardware. In cases where a computer's CPU isn't fast enough for AI tasks, a high-end GPU can help. Originally designed to process computer graphics, GPUs can handle large amounts of data and quickly analyze it in parallel processes, making them very efficient at running AI and machine learning algorithms. Higher-end AI uses specialized FPGA processors designed for the needs of the AI running on it.
Uses of AI
The ultimate goal of AI development is to use computers to perform tasks that previously required human effort and to find new or more efficient ways to accomplish those tasks. Early AI started small, with routine work, and has slowly increased its capabilities as algorithms improve and computer hardware becomes more powerful. As AI technology improves, it opens up more kinds of tasks to automation.
- Chatbots attempt to mimic a real person over online text chat. Early chatbots were novelties, but modern chatbots are commonly used in customer service roles, helping people resolve simple problems and saving time for human customer service agents to focus on more difficult issues.
- Video games use AI to create virtual opponents for players. Most genres use AI to some degree, including action and strategy games, as well as board games like chess and Go.
- AI-powered speech recognition enables new user interfaces, allowing people to speak to some devices to ask questions and issue commands.
- Recommendation engines are used by online stores (like Amazon) and streaming media services (like Netflix) to look for trends in a person's purchases or viewing history. Based on those trends, the AI suggests products or media that person may want to purchase or watch next.
- AI programs can help businesses, government organizations, and financial institutions identify data trends to streamline processes like identifying fraud, improving logistics, and trading stocks.
- Art generators like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion are trained on large data sets of curated images and artwork and can generate new images in a wide range of styles based on text prompts.