Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Before diving deep into applications of AI in python it is important to first understand what is Artificial Intelligence. The Artificial Intelligence buzzword has been thrown around a lot in the past decade as we see self driving cars becoming more real and big tech companies being able to answer our questions before we even ask them. But also before we jump on the bandwagon and either automatically assume that Artificial Intelligence is going to bring forth the robot uprising or that it is the greatest thing ever we should understand it more for ourselves.

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“You have to talk about ‘The Terminator’ if you’re talking about artificial intelligence. I actually think that that’s way off. I don’t think that an artificially intelligent system that has superhuman intelligence will be violent. I do think that it will disrupt our culture.”

—Gray Scott

What is Artificial Intelligence?


At its core Artificial Intelligence is the ability for a machine to simulate human intelligence processes to understand multiple auditory, visual, and internal inputs, search for patterns in information, and to self-correct. This will enable computers to react to our world similar to how humans would with the goal of improving our lives and the world around us.

Why study Artificial Intelligence?

As computer systems get more evolved in terms of their processing and storage abilities and the way humans can get them to behave through advanced coding algorithms and optimizations; AI systems will be more common in our day to day lives. Whether it’s talking to your smart digital assistance who can answer most questions in seconds, applications that can recommend what movie you should watch next based on your history and the history of people that have also watches similar things, or cars that can stop on your behalf when it detects a deer darting across the road at night; these AI driven applications are our future


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AI has the ability to make the systems in our everyday lives smarter and more efficient. Improved knowledge in AI will lead to better self-driving cars and even intelligent robots that can help do daily chores around the house or even make our food for us at our favorite restaurant. This automation of manual human tasks will end up making those jobs obsolete but so forth it will bring even more exciting and profitable opportunities to work on the technology that is making our lives more convenient. Students and workers highly skilled in data science, AI, machine learning, and coding have countless opportunities to work in this field as the demand for these workers out weighs the supply and even entry level jobs can bring in six figure incomes at top tech companies.

How do we know Artificial Intelligence hasn’t peaked?

To answer this question one simply needs to turn to their own brain. This marvelous machine made of organic material, the water you drink, and being driven by the very oxygen you breath is the go to model that AI still has a long ways to go before we should be fearful of the robot uprising mentioned earlier.

Our brain generally has the ability to process the things we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell without our conscience awareness of it given all of these systems are healthy for you. Have you ever found yourself driving home and you get deep in thought on a situation or challenge then when you snap out of if you have driven 10 miles without even being aware of the turns and stops you made to get there. This is an evolution of our brain to process simpler tasks autonomously such as driving our daily commute while our higher pre-frontal cortex is actively involved in other thought. Whereas our brain has the ability to do this, a computer still needs to be explicitly programmed for a desired task.

However, while the human brain is great at helping us do other tasks such as learning, controlling core human functions, and sensing the environment around us; it struggles to keep up in a society where data is constantly growing and changing.  Today’s computers can be leveraged to analyze this data through petabytes of cloud storage and huge fleets of servers with millions of cores of processing ability.

This can help humans learn what are the current trends of social media data to drive recommendation engines, and analyzing our own DNA and cells along with other test results to come up with faster diagnosis of health issues. Artificial Intelligence can also help cars make split second decisions for collision avoidance by analyzing data from numerous cameras and sensors from multiple angles and even consider infrared data to help us avoid the deer from earlier.

Applications of Artificial Intelligence

“Someone on TV has only to say, ‘Alexa,’ and she lights up. She’s always ready for action, the perfect woman, never says, ‘Not tonight, dear.’” —

Sybil Sage, as quoted in a New York Times article

Now that we know the why we should study AI, this section will tell you what are some of the most popular things we can do with artificial intelligence and this article will focus on some of the more abstract branches of ai.

Computer vision

  • Cameras that enable self driving cars by processing ms level frame by frame data that tells the car you are in the correct lane
  • that feature in facebook when you post a picture of a friend that suggests you tag them
  • product recommendation engines, did you just do a search for top 10 fastest cars and now all the ads you see are places trying to sell you the car you just searched. Blame a product recommendation engine for this.
  • assisted dart boards. Just see the below video to see why this is cool.

Natural language processing

  • Search engine processors – These are the systems that crawl billions of web pages to search for common keywords and use these to recommend the most relevant web pages for their phrases you searched. Please like and comment on this page so other people may find it too!
  • Smart assistants may be more known for their ability to listen to people speak but once the machines turn your speech into actual words they need to know what you said somehow
  • Sentiment analysis to intake all of the daily twitter data to recommend potential hot stocks. You can build AI models to take all the twitter data, see if everyone is talking about coke and reference stock prices to impact your investment strategies. This is cool stuff until you potentially cause a flash crash.

Speech recognition

This is technology that takes the input from microphones, analyzes the energy of your speech overtime to turn it to phonemes, contexts, grammars, and ultimately words. The below products all use this as their main shtick.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart speaker with Alexa – Charcoal

Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case (Latest Model) with Siri

Google Home

XFinity Smart Remotes

Expert Systems

A system that references a knowledge base such as webmd symptom checker or finance budget recommenders that can view your spending habits and income data, reference it against other data from its database to suggest budgets that have helped other people save.

Games

  • AlphaGo – The first computer to beat a professional go player. Because of the millions of game states at go many believed this would never be achievable by a machine.
  • Watson, the IBM smart computer that beat Ken Jennings at poker by being able to interpret the questions and search many databases in parallel for the right answers
  • Worlds greatest 6 player poker champion, it’s scary to imagine playing online poker anymore if any regular person gets his hands on this code. Considering this version uses several servers I think we still have a few more years before we have to worry.
  • Deep Blue – An earlier version of the system that beat AlphaGo was able to beat chess master Garry Kasparov

Robots

Atlas by Boston robotics is an evolving robot prototype that has reached youtube celebrity level with it’s gazelle like movements

Roomba – a self driving vacuum created by iRobot. This guy will navigate your house while you’re at work and clean your floors for you by using artificial intelligence to learn the layout of your house and navigate your halls. It may spin in circles at first but once it gets going it’s impressive. It also doubles as a way to keep your pets entertained.

Roomba Amazon product page

Amazon warehouse robots – These robots help fullfill your orders in two days or less and can navigate giant factories and countless products with ease.


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