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AI Reborn

Posted by Shahnawaz Qureshi (View Profile | View All Posts) | March 28, 2018 11:52 PM

 

During my academic days we had a dedicated subject for Artificial Intelligence (Al) in our Final year. Of what I could remember, it was all about Algorithms and a unique less known language called LISP (list Processing) for which we had labs back then. It was one of my favorite subject as it was futuristic and not normal science. But coming out of college I believed that Al was something that would continue to be a research topic rather being a practical implementation. Why? Because how would you come up with an algorithm that could mimic Intelligence? It is one thing to write a code for Chess that could analyze all the "n" possible moves and choose the one that has the smallest high probable path for victory but it's totally a different case to provide a generic Intelligence. Those were the days post IBM Deep Blue's victory stories against Human Grand Masters. So, called intelligence in domain like chess is quite possible as it has boundaries. There are limited rules and probable moves. A good set of algorithm and powerful processing power would give any grandmaster a run for his money. But in a more variable domain, things get more fiction than being realistic.

Fast forward seventeen years and Al seems to be more realistic and evolving towards realization. And I get a feeling YES, it's possible. So, what has changed? To answer this in two words -"Data Analytics".  Today's AI is driven by Data Analytics, Algorithms being developed are focused more on Data. Other than this most of the advancement in Today's Information Technology landscape is aiding Data Analytics.

The foundation of Today's AI has been data; algorithms under the field of Machine Learning and Data Mining are focused around data and harvesting patterns from it, these harvested patterns forms the building blocks of today's AI. Unlike yesteryears, today data is available in huge volume, the digital world around us has been spewing data all around, and this data in form of Big Data provide the mining field for patterns which usually remain unseen on surface until right analytics has been applied. With real time analytics, intelligence no longer need to be harvested from historical data but can be attained and recognized as it happens.

Transformation in technology landscape has aided the evolution of AI as well. Cloud computing is providing virtually unlimited storage and computing power required to run data analytics at scale. Another crucial element that is contributing to the success of AI today is "Connected System" through Web services and API's. AI yesteryears was conceived to be more of a monolithic, an AI system back then was supposed to house most of its intelligence capability, but today intelligence is distributed. Today if you want your system to recognize human speech than you need not build it from scratch but can leverage existing speech recognition services from Microsoft, Google or Amazon. Similarly if you need an image recognition capability than you can look forward for Vision API's again from players like Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

Just like distributed architecture the evolvement of AI has also been distributed and community driven. Popular statistical computing language "R" widely used for Data Analytics is open source. What makes "R" so popular for data analysis is its vast range of packages developed and contributed by independent developers solving certain problem domains and making it available for reuse this collective effort has been contributing towards the advancement of Data Analysis and AI.   

These are some of the factors providing the right ecosystems that is making AI to thrive and become a reality today. As hinted above no one entity is building the whole AI ecosystem but it's been evolving gradually in bits and pieces. Bunch of these services are baked locally to provide certain AI implementation like "Self Driving Car". Gradually such focused implementation can be augmented with one another to give rise to more intelligent system with broader capability that could someday rival humans. And probably one day, tables might turn around and machines might be working on making humans more intelligent and efficient so that we humans can serve their purpose, Scary uh!

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