There’s been a lot of buzz around the increased usage and experimentation of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in the enterprise. But why has the interest in A.I. suddenly risen when it was considered dead and buried several years ago? The answer is this – cheap computer processing power and the secrets hidden amongst a torrent of data that didn’t exist in such high quantities then. Back then, A.I. wasn’t considered technologically or economically feasible. However, as data volumes continue to surge, there is an increasing need for companies to be able efficiently analyze and build solutions from it all. But despite all the talk around A.I., there’s still a shroud of mystery surrounding how companies can utilize it.
So what does Artificial Intelligence entail? Well it’s actually a fairly broad term that encompasses several different fields, but it all can be boiled down to one thing: making computers act intelligently. When you hear the two words ‘Artificial Intelligence’ you would probably think of examples such as Apple’s Siri and self-driving cars. But A.I. is much more than that. It also powers product pricing on Amazon and movie recommendations on Netflix, just to name a few. Obviously, all these applications are programmed differently, but they all fall under the category of Artificial Intelligence. For the enterprise, A.I. can do so much more than just traditional statistics. These intelligent machines can now find patterns in data and understand how systems work with minimal human intervention. As a result, A.I. will allow people to discover answers that humans previously would not have been able to uncover by themselves.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty. We’ll start off by explaining what machine learning is, which is a subset of A.I., but is what most companies are referring to when talking about artificial intelligence. Machine learning uses algorithms that learn from data, complete tasks and make predictions with an emphasis on high statistical accuracy. By mining the big data that companies have harvested over the years, machine learning can help produce predictions that the company can use to adjust its business strategy. However, what machine learning cannot come up with is its own solutions for business problems. The algorithms that are implemented cannot solve problems on their own; they just provide some rules and predictions for your use. But do not fear, because the next step on the artificial intelligence line is where we start to see A.I. shine: machine intelligence.
Machine intelligence basically builds upon what machine learning provides. It offers us an interpretation of the data rather than just providing predictions. One of the shortcomings of machine learning is that machines are learning but not conveying to us what they’re finding from the data. To make data valuable, we need to be able to understand it and explain it; only then can we and apply it back to the business. What if we could take this a step further and have machines discover answers that are not yet known? Machine intelligence has the ability to not just uncover answers, but to understand and interpret what it has learned. On one hand, machine learning will accurately predict that your electric bill will increase next month. On the other hand, machine intelligence will accurately predict that your electric bill will increase next month – and tell you why: your travel schedule will be light, the weather will be hotter than usual and your air conditioner has been deteriorating. Machine intelligence teaches back to the human the reasons why things happen or will happen, which allows the company to make quick and justified changes in strategy. Big data by itself does not result in any answers; machine intelligence is the tool to transform big data into actionable answers that businesses need.
It should be known that artificial intelligence, especially machine intelligence, is still in the experimentation stage for many companies. It will take time to completely integrate this technology into the business operations. There is no doubt in my mind that this technology will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. It’s well known that big data is the key to many business decisions, and A.I. can harness this data and produce valuable information and answers to increase profitability substantially. However, there are some critics who believe that this technology may just be a passing fad as many emerging technologies have proven to be. Time will tell whether or not artificial intelligence truly is the next big technology. It all depends on businesses’ abilities to efficiently utilize A.I. to generate a desired ROI.
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