Brought to you by Keysight Technologies
By Jen Mullen, Emerging Technology Solutions Lead at Keysight Technologies
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a near-obsessive focus of futurists and science fiction authors since long before the advent of modern computers.
Students of history, film, and literature recognise that science fiction reflects society’s collective mood. In this context, the way that AI is used as a plot device is a particularly compelling litmus test for public sentiment.
In prosperous times, pop culture approaches AI through a utopian lens—C3PO in Star Wars, Data from Star Trek, and Disney Pixar’s Wall-E. Stanley Kubrick’s chilling Hal-9000, GERTY from the 2009 film Moon, and Ava from Ex Machina are all decidedly dystopian and reflect the public anxiety and unease in uncertain times.
Today, the introduction of accessible AI programs has led to a boom in media coverage and interest from consumers and businesses. Advertisements touting software with powerful AI capabilities abound on LinkedIn and Google.
Despite this rising focus on AI, public understanding of AI remains rooted more in science fiction than reality. Contrary to popular belief and software marketing, which may tout AI as a product’s primary function, it is likely only one subset of a small function that may use an AI algorithm.
This has given rise to a widely held assumption that AI is a complex, intelligent—nearly sentient — “magic bullet” that can solve challenges in any imaginable scenario. However, AI is much more approachable than popular culture would have us believe.
In the simplest terms, AI can best be described as “math with direction”. Given this reality, it’s understandable why pop culture storytellers looking for compelling narratives choose to perpetuate the mythologies surrounding AI.
Deconstructing the myth of AI
AI is something we simultaneously take advantage of all the time but have no idea how it works or what it’s doing. Due to the buzz—and pop culture myths—that surround this emerging technology, defining artificial intelligence can be challenging.
Put simply, AI is a useful tool that aids users in identifying patterns in large data sets that they would not otherwise be able to parse through on their own.
Understanding how AI works, what it does, and how developers are using it in real-world scenarios paints a surprising picture of an approachable technology that is accelerating breakthroughs with tangible benefits.
How does AI work?
AI is a broad branch of computer science focused on the development of intelligent machines that can perform tasks that, until recently, were the sole domain of human beings.
While Hollywood directors and futurist sci-fi authors often imagine AI as sentient machines, the reality is far less fantastic. Most AI algorithms require human direction to supervise their learning, reinforce good decisions, and correct or discourage less-than-ideal conclusions.
Developers apply AI strategically to certain processes to streamline insight-gathering and task automation to parse and interpret immense data sets to identify and allow action on patterns within the data.
By giving repetitive, time-intensive tasks to AI processes, users can quickly take advantage of key insights to accelerate their innovations.
How are different industries using AI?
AI is a tool that amplifies human ingenuity—not a replacement for it. In the same way, an artist uses different pigments, brushes, and techniques to create an image on canvas, developers leverage the interdisciplinary tools of AI to assist them in their work, be it medical research, developing autonomous vehicles, or mapping complex weather systems.
Healthcare researchers and clinicians are increasingly using AI to assist them in improving diagnostics, monitoring, and treatment development. Moreover, as the ratio of patients to physicians continues to increase, deep learning and AI are ensuring that doctors continue to provide quality healthcare at scale.
AI is being used to help physicians detect conditions more quickly to develop and deliver deeply personal healthcare plans. In drug research, AI is making it possible to automate some aspects of the process to speed the discovery of new and effective treatments, ultimately resulting in safer drugs and better outcomes for patients.
The increasing pervasiveness of AI is expected to be pivotal in next-generation wireless networks like 6G. AI and machine learning are poised to be critical enablers of 6G technology by optimising networks and designing new waveforms.
AI is fueling innovation in the wireless communications industry in areas like energy conservation and navigation. For next-gen wireless, the industry anticipates that AI holds the key to unlocking vastly improved radio frequency parameters like channel bandwidth, spectrum monitoring, and antenna sensitivity.
Autonomous vehicles are arguably the most visible use of AI in the automotive sector. However, the explosive rise in connected vehicles and smart functionality, such as voice and image recognition, has prompted an equal rise in demand for AI and automation.
Original equipment manufacturers are increasingly using computer vision, natural language processing, and automation of AI to integrate advanced computer systems and wireless connectivity into new car designs.
These systems are dramatically improving road safety, making it possible for cars to actively assist their drivers in monitoring road conditions and traffic.
How AI is helping accelerate breakthroughs
AI will continue to evolve innovation management and create a limitless horizon for human ingenuity. Consumers and businesses alike have high expectations, not only for the quality of innovative products but also for the cadence at which breakthroughs are made and become available to them.
Just as the computer processing constraints that once limited a company’s ability to deliver were stripped away, AI is transforming the development lifecycles through which breakthroughs are born.
In his essay The Decay of Lying, Oscar Wilde famously said that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”. With every passing day, Wilde’s essay becomes even more prophetic when we look at how elements of science fiction from decades past are now prosaic facets of modern life.
Star Trek predicted handheld medical diagnostics devices and mobile phones. The Jetsons imagined video chats and smart domestic appliances. Frank Herbert gave us the first glimpse of drones in the iconic Dune.
AI is accelerating the breakthroughs that enable developers to fulfill the future first conceived by the dreamers of bygone eras.