Artificial Intelligence: Understanding the Hype

Addressing the hype

Artificial Intelligence is making headlines everywhere. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve definitely come across the terms AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and so on. Anyone who knows a thing or two about the tech industry, knows that it is no stranger to catchphrases, fads, buzzwords and hype.

AI, ML etc have become buzzwords. The hype around AI has reduced in other parts of the world but India is still very much part of the hype cycle. Students want to learn AI even before they have a base in computer science. Job seekers want jobs that will allow them to use AI and companies want to implement AI in their products. Startups are using AI as the core technology for their platforms because they are fully aware that investors are interested in AI. Pitch decks are full of AI references and empty promises. Companies hire AI experts before they plan on how they should use AI in their products. Any technology that advances at such an aggressive pace will be difficult for anyone to ignore. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google said that the world is transitioning from a mobile first to a AI first world.

Everyone wants to hop on the AI bandwagon. But do people understand AI? You will be surprised to find out how many people are unaware of what AI actually is. I’m going to use this post to help explain AI.

Understanding AI

Simply put, AI is a branch of computer science with the goal to make machines or programs think and learn.

Machine Learning: When you search something on Google, it uses a Machine Learning algorithm called RankBrain to filter results based on various parameters. It is a subset of AI. It allows machines to take data and learn by themselves.

Deep Learning: Google Now also known as Google Assistant on your Android smartphone, uses Deep Learning to perform tasks using large amounts of data. When you ask a question, the Google Assistant searches through large amounts of data to give you an answer. It is a subset of Machine Learning. It solves real world problems by using neural networks to mimic human decision making. The machine understands how to mimic human decisions by training itself on large amounts of data.

Natural Language Processing: The Google Assistant on your Android smartphone also uses NLP. When you ask a question, it interprets human language and then performs actions to give you a reply. It is also a subset of AI. It allows machines to understand human language. NLP can use ML based models to help it interpret language.

Other fields of AI are depicted in the diagram above. Hopefully, the above information can give you a basic understanding of AI. I’d suggest you dig deeper after reading this article. Personally, I like this course on Udacity if you want to learn more about AI: Intro to Artificial IntelligenceIf you want to learn Machine Learning, this course on Coursera by Andrew Ng is a good start.

Some popular applications of Artificial Intelligence in use today:

  • Siri on Apple devices. Uses NLP and ML.
  • Amazon.com uses ML to recommend products to users.
  • Netflix uses ML and deep learning to recommend movies and TV shows to users by analyzing large amounts of data.
  • Google search uses ML to rank search results. Google also uses ML to display targeted ads to users based on their browser history and other parameters.

Make informed decisions

It’s important that we stay up to date with technology, but learning or implementing something before we understand how the technology will help us is a bad idea. Artificial intelligence, when used correctly is extremely powerful. Don’t use AI because others are using it, use it when you feel it will help you solve a problem faster and better than other technologies. It’s important to make an informed decision. Using compelling technology in the absence of an idea is nothing more than an experiment.

By Devansh Lala

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