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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

AI is the new electricity

Anthony Williams |

“AI(I) is well until it gets out of control and causes havoc and disruption in our lives.”

This quote is from Andrew Ng, a Chinese American computer scientist and entrepreneur.  He is said to be one of the most influential minds in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning.

According to him the use of Artificial Intelligence will be all pervasive in the future, as is the use of electricity today.

His statement puts all of us in a dilemma, that is we need to understand “What is AI?”, because like “electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, it is hard to think of an industry that AI will not transform in the next several years” (Andrew Ng).

The purpose of this article is to explain in very simple terms, what AI actually means for us and how should we understand it before using it or going out and getting an expensive educational degree on the subject or starting our own AI-based startup.

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In 2008, an article titled “Is Google making us stupid?” was published by The Atlantic Magazine, USA. Today, we should be asking “Is Google Intelligent?” Yes, it’s intelligent because it has answers to your general questions, this is “Reactive Intelligence,” but at the same time, no, it’s not intelligent because it can’t (yet) answer your specific answers, which is termed Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

Facebook can answer our specific questions, since it knows a-lot about us and our likes/dislikes etc. And despite the fact that, Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny over its use of user data, especially after evidence of Russian interference through advertising during the 2016 U.S. presidential election was discovered, the questions remains “Is Facebook Intelligent?” No, because it’s not built to do that, it’s built to help us connect with people who we want to connect with in real life but are unable to do so because of many reasons.

Using Facebook may not help us in finding the meaning of life, but it can help us connect with people, who give meaning to our lives.

Similarly, WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware and cross-platform messaging and voice over IP service. The application allows the sending of text messages and voice calls, as well as video calls, images and other media, documents, and user location. And yes, Facebook owns and operates the world famous and the most used WhatsApp app, along with all the data we share on it. But WhatsApp exists in its own universe and helps us to instantly communicate our thoughts, actions and emotions.

It has made the idea of our own private (digital) world possible and it has given us the ability to populate it with the colors of life, of our own choosing and taste.

It’s truly an empowering tool and is directly boosting our “Natural Intelligence”.

In order to understand AI, the simplest path would be to think of your own intelligence in terms of having the abilities of Google, Facebook and WhatsApp. Just imagine, what if you could answer every factual question you were ever asked. Then think, what if you could understand the true feelings, emotions and behavior of people around you all the time. And most importantly, you could communicate all this data and meaning in a beautiful and logical manner at the speed of light to billions of people of this world – You would be crowned as “The Most Intelligent Person in this World” (And maybe in this universe).

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All this is humanly possible but for specific knowledge domains – A tax consultant can answer all your specific questions to your finances and lifestyle. He/she will have an elegant solution to your taxation problems and so will all the experts, consultants, and professionals for their own domain. This intelligence takes many years of training through education and interacting with the world. Similarly, institutions and organizations spend many millions on developing their own Intelligence, consisting of the collective knowledge and experience of its people and systems. But no one system of General Intelligence System exists in the world.

So by now, it must be realized that AI is not a technology, not a trend, neither a solution to our problems or the reason for the end of the world.

It’s a dream that philosophers have had for millenniums, it’s a dream that scientist have had every day and now it’s a dream humanity has for its future. The dream is to make AI an extension of our own intelligence.

“AI is the ability of any system, other than a human, to collect, process and communicate data about a particular person that does not need to utilize that person’s own intelligence in arriving at an answer or solution that is as beneficial for that person, as that person’s Natural intelligence (NI) had generated.”

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The present AI techniques including machine learning, neural networks, deep learning etc. and AI technologies like, self-driving cars, robotics and speech-recognition tools etc., are taking us towards the birth and growth up of machines (systems) possessing Artificial Intelligence. This is what is called “The Age of AI”, where machines will possess “self-awareness” and will make it possible for mankind to enhance its individual and collective intelligence. The electricity of the nature has been tamed by humans, now it’s time to utilize the electricity that powers the human imagination.

Anthony Williams is currently the CEO of Tax Dosti. Tax Dosti is an AI-Based Startup, whose mission is to empower 50 million Pakistani taxpayers. Anthony Williams brings with him 20 years of taxation and technology experience. He was previously the Corporate Finance Manager of Ayesha Knitewear (Pvt) Ltd and the Finance Manager of 3A Apparels. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the Global Village Space’s editorial policy.