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Artificial Intelligence

24 July 2023

Exploring the frontiers of artificial intelligence

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has entered our daily lives and become a driving force for change.

From voice assistants that promptly answer our questions, to streaming platforms that suggest personalized movies and TV series, to driver assistance systems that make travelling smoother. AI is the connective tissue that unites the technological experiences of our lives.

Basically, Artificial Intelligence refers to the ability of machines to mimic human intelligence and perform tasks that typically require human cognitive skills, such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making. Although the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was first coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, it is only in recent years that AI has witnessed tremendous growth due to technological advances, abundance of data and the development of new algorithms.

Two types of Artificial Intelligence

AI is generally divided into two types: on the one hand, we have Narrow AI and, on the other, General AI. Outside of academia or research, the term AI is generally used to refer to the first type.

Narrow AI possesses specific capabilities within a limited domain and excels in well-defined tasks but does not have the ability to generalize knowledge outside that domain. This is the type of AI application that we use in everyday life.

In contrast, General AI, remains a field of study that does not yet have a concrete output. The goal of General AI researchers is to create an Artificial Intelligence that can think and reflect like a human being. It strives to approach a complete and fully formed individual with interests, passions and the ability to converse spontaneously and autonomously. The general AI would have the ability to learn and adapt to new situations, solve problems and make decisions in a similar way to human intelligence.

In short, General AI is the artificial intelligence we find in science fiction films and books, such as the American film ‘Her’, in which the main character Samantha, an operating system, is able to understand and respond to complex human emotions, engage in meaningful conversations and even form a romantic relationship with the protagonist. Achieving General AI, however, remains a challenging goal due to the complexities in replicating human consciousness and adaptability.

 

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Into the heart of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence encompasses several advanced techniques:

  • machine learning, which allows AI models to learn from data patterns without explicit programming;
  • deep learning, an advanced form of machine learning, which uses multilayer neural networks to process complex data and obtain high-level abstractions.

The transformative influence of AI extends to various sectors, offering numerous benefits. For example, the healthcare sector benefits from AI-powered medical image analysis, diagnosis support and personalized treatment plans, while the finance and banking sector uses AI for fraud detection, credit and risk assessment and algorithmic trading.

NLP enables machines to understand, interpret and generate human language in a contextually relevant way, facilitating seamless communication and interaction between humans and machines.

One of the most promising areas of AI is now generative AI, which has impressive capabilities and is able to produce new content, such as images, music and text. However, it is important not to confuse generative AI with general AI, because the former is an example of Narrow AI, as its main function is to generate content within a specific domain.

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AI creating content

Generative AI has the ability to produce original and novel content that falls within the artistic domain such as music, text or images. With the help of advanced models such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Large Language Models (LLMs), the potential applications of generative AI are vast, ranging from the creation of art and music to drug discovery and in supporting the creative industries.

It is inevitable that artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to gain ground in our daily lives, with the aim of simplifying many activities and especially the interaction between humans and machines. Until a few years ago, this scenario seemed like science fiction but is now clearly visible on the horizon. It will be vital for all of us to determine how we will use this technology and define the role it will play in the human context.