Back in the eighties, a friend of my parents’, otherwise a nice person embodying high ideals and moral values, was perceived as arrogance personified. The reason behind this certification was indeed justified as he often gave the impression that there were just 2 intelligent people in his circle of friends and acquaintances: his son and himself. While he was an accomplished professor in mathematics, his son, settled in Europe, had climbed high up the corporate ladder at a very young age. He attributed his son’s smartness to his genes!
Intelligence is the abstract noun we have been always understanding in relation to the cognitive power of individuals. And a clichéd statement we often get to hear when someone we know succeeds is “No wonder! We need to see whose child he/she is?” The person’s achievement is so often linked to genes. There has been a plethora of research to determine whether it’s genetics or environmental factors that influence one’s intelligence, with studies acknowledging the importance of both variables.
Now in a totally different dimension from human intelligence, what I get to hear at home on a regular basis these days is the term “artificial intelligence” or AI for short. The younger man of the house, taking Dad as his mentor and training to be a techie, has opted to select that thread as his focus area for his undergraduate degree. As alien as the term may have sounded to me initially, not to forget how intimidating it felt, I have tried to understand what it means at the most minuscule level. In a layman’s terms, artificial intelligence can be explained as a computer learning to function like a human brain. It sounded pretty interesting for me to explore in my own limited way a bit about where it may have been used.
I was highly intrigued to learn that every time I use my iPhone to send a message, I am exposed to artificial intelligence. The autocorrect feature that provides suggestions while typing is nothing else but an AI function. Totally floored by the fudge cake my sister-in-law makes, I was texting her a few minutes ago when “good” and “fun” popped up as propositions after I had written the words “The fudge cake recipe you use is really…”
The movie buff and the social media devotee get to feel the AI air too. Based on what one has watched, Netflix’s recommendation engine suggests other films that one might like. After someone uploads photos on Facebook and tags another, the very next time the picture of that individual appears, facial recognition is at play and the name of the person is suggested. All of these use tools that come under the category of artificial intelligence.
There is tremendous scope for the use of artificial intelligence in the automobile industry. The giant American technology company Nvidia has invested $2 billion in an artificial intelligence chip that will aid future self driving cars in reading street signs and traffic lights, changing lanes, and even navigating blizzards. In January of this year, Japanese automaker Honda unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a concept car NeuV with an “emotion engine”. Equipped with AI technology, the car will be able to strike conversations with the driver and gauge his or her emotions. Depending on the driver’s mood, it will be able to recommend different types of music that can enliven his spirits.
As much as I enjoy using the latest gizmos and gadgets, I would rather not delve into technical details that I’ll not be able to comprehend. Technology is not my cup of tea! For the moment, I feel I have roughly grasped the concept of AI. However, I have lately been nurturing a dream, and I wonder if it will ever see the light of day. It will be wonderful to have something that senses what mommies have in their minds. All moms will be overjoyed if, for instance, there’s a device that communicates to the family members that she’s ready for a vacation, that she’s in no mood to fix dinner. She could be well interested in having a few hours to herself, listening to music and reading her favorite author rather than doing household chores! Well who knows? With technology advancing at such a zooming speed, artificial intelligence may do it all!