Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology based on specially designed software that enables computers to perform tasks like humans. The software employs advanced computing techniques such as machine learning, speech recognition, pattern discovery, perception etc., that empowers computers to develop special insights and intelligence so that they can think and act like humans. It empowers computers with the ability to think with reason, to discover meaning from a set of data, to remember past experiences and learn from past failures. As a result, a computer can perform various decisive tasks efficiently and persistently with little or zero human intervention
Examples of some specialized tasks performed by AI software:
Speech Recognition: Speech recognition software can understand and respond to natural language (such as English) spoken by humans. They employ natural language processors that can understand and interpret spoken words and convert them into written text in digital format. It can identify different accents, can differentiate between male and female voices, can handle slang words and can recognize various voice modulations present in human speech and respond accordingly. With the help of speech recognition software, AI can take part in live conversation with human partners in different languages.
- Handwriting Recognition: Handwriting recognition software can read text written on a piece of paper (by pen) or on a digital screen (by a stylus), can recognize the shape of each character and convert it to corresponding digital character which can be digitally edited and stored by software. The reading of a piece of text is usually done offline with the help of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) scanner which converts images of each written character into electronic characters which can be stored digitally and can be edited as and when required. Online character recognition system is also available that performs automatic conversion of text as it is written on digital screens (with the help of a stylus). The converted digital text can be used in any text or word processing applications.Text to Speech (TTS) systems are available which can convert digital text into spoken words. So, by using handwriting recognition system coupled with TTS, AI can read a written piece of text (handwritten or printed) and speak out loudly just like a human being.
- Game Playing: An important component of artificial intelligence software is game playing, i.e., the ability to play various board games with one or more human partners. The board game, such as Chess or Go is displayed in the computer screen and human player can enter his/her move by pressing a button. In response, the computer (driven by AI software) plays its move. The software memorizes the rules of the game, the legal moves and the conditions for winning or losing the game. The software also can speculate (a large number of) future moves of the opponent and can throw a stiff challenge for winning the game.
- Pattern Discovery: Machine learning is an integral part of artificial intelligence software. It allows AI software to perform certain computational tasks autonomously, without any instructions. Pattern discovery is the ability to discover specific data patterns (present in a stream of data) that can indicate specific information about the system. For example, in a database consisting of browsing history of an online consumer, if a particular website link is seen repeatedly for a large number of times, it indicates that the particular consumer is liking the website. Thus pattern discovery can detect the presence of any recurring pattern in a database which may give valuable information about the system. Based on this information the software itself can take right decision at right time. AI software, with the help of machine learning and pattern discovery, empowers computers to take independent decisions without any human intervention.
- Perception With the help of IOT (Internet of Things) sensors. AI software can collect various environmental parameters such as temperature, pressure, humidity, presence/absence of light, rainfall, wind speed etc. These parameters will impart a knowledge about the environment which is analogous to human perception about surrounding nature. So, based on these ‘perceptions’, AI software can take appropriate decisions in order to improve comfort level of humans. For example, a, intelligent thermostat can read room temperature and if it crosses a threshold, it can automatically decrease the room temperature to avoid discomfort. Thus AI software has the ability to monitor environmental situations and is capable of taking appropriate actions independently.
- Virtual Assistants: Virtual Assistant, also called AI assistant is a AI based software that can understand voice commands (in natural languages) and completes tasks accordingly. It employs natural language processor and speech recognition software and is capable of interpreting human speech and can respond via synthesized voices. Apple Siri is a virtual assistant that can answer user questions, make purchase and other recommendations and perform specific tasks such as make online payments or send emails. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana all are examples of AI based virtual assistant that can perform a range of tasks such as answering user query in natural languages (such as English), playing music on user demand, delivering current news, delivering local weather report, ordering food, switching on/off home appliances (TV/light/refrigerator/fan/air-conditioners/mobile devices), dialling/answering telephone numbers, making/answering conference calls etc. Most modern smartphones come with an inbuilt virtual assistant which can follow user voice commands and perform a variety of tasks.
Examples of AI Software:
IBM Deep Blue
Deep Blue is a AI powered supercomputer built by IBM which beat world chess champion Gary Kasparov in a chess tournament in 1997. It was the first chess playing computer to take part in a chess tournament with a human counterpart. In 1996, an initial version of the machine was defeated by Kasparov in a six game match. Later, in 1997, an upgraded version of the machine ultimately defeated Kasparov in a six-game match and created history. It was a landmark event that established the ability of computers to handle complex calculations which will be used in future in discovering new medical drugs, new financial modelling, new trends in industry and new methods of risk analysis.
IBM Watson is a AI powered question-answering machine which is capable of answering questions spoken in natural language. It employs machine learning, natural language processing, information retrieval and automated reasoning technique in order to handle questions spoken in natural languages. It took part in famous American television quiz show Jeopardy! and competed with champions Brad Rutter & Ken Jennings and won the first prize of $1 million. Later Watson was employed in a lung cancer treatment centre in New York city where it offered diagnostic assistance to medical professionals
Amazon AI is a set of AI software that employ deep learning and machine learning technique in order to offer useful purchase recommendations to the customers of Amazon.com. It collects browsing history of any potential customer from various online portals such as social media, emails, online messaging systems etc. This preference data is then stored, sorted and analysed by AI and is utilized each time the customer starts browsing Amazon.com for making any purchase. The preferred items as well as a range of similar items are automatically displayed at the bottom of the browser in order to help the customer in taking right purchase decisions.