What is AI and Why Should I Care?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) are systems programmed to think and respond like humans. In fact, we asked the AI system ChatGPT that very question and got this response.
What is Artificial Intelligence? Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. It involves the development of algorithms and computer programs that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, understanding natural language, making decisions, and playing games. There are several types of AI, including rule-based AI, expert systems, and machine learning.
What makes AI so powerful is it can have the intelligence and reasoning capability of the human mind but can analyze exponentially far more information than any human, and do it in a manner of seconds. The concept of AI is not new. Originally covered in science fiction novels, AI is something that has been in development for decades. The reason you are hearing so much about it now is for the first time anyone has the chance to interact with and see the true functionality of AI.
ChatGPT, an online-powered AI chatbot, is one of the first publicly available that has the ability to think and respond like a real human, passing something called the Turing Test. Developed by Alan Turing in the 1950s, the Turing Test determines a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior by having a real human interact and have a conversation with the machine by a text-based chat channel. If the human could not tell if they were interacting with a machine or person (in other words they could not tell the difference), the machine is said to have passed the test. ChatGPT and other AI solutions today are some of the first publicly available that do just that.
However online conversations are just the beginning of what AI can do. There are now AI solutions that can, in real-time, create a video of a real looking person teaching anything you want in any language you want, analyze millions of heath records and quickly determine who most likely has cancer, create news articles or essays on the topic of your choice, generate images for children’s books, or create code for new computer programs. While AI is not something to be feared, there are some dangers of which to be aware.
Dangers of Artificial Intelligence
- Recreating You: First is how AI can replicate you. There are now AI solutions that can take a recording of a person’s voice and then use that recording to create real-time audio that sounds just like them, saying whatever it wants. So a cyber attacker could record a phone voice message that sounds like you, tricking your co-workers or a family member into thinking you called them and asked them to take an action. AI can also do this with pictures or video. AI can take an existing picture or video of you, then use that to recreate entirely new pictures or videos of you speaking and doing things that you never said or did. This ability is sometimes called Deep Fakes.
- Privacy: Be aware that any information you share or enter with any AI system can not only be retained and processed by it but also used to give answers to others. This means if you enter any personal information about yourself or any confidential information from work, that information will be stored, processed, and potentially used to answer other people's questions. Do not share or enter any information that you consider sensitive, personal, or confidential.
- Wrong Answers: As for the data or answers AI provides, the solutions can be wrong. AI is still very much in its infancy and is actively working out the bugs. In fact, AI services such as ChatGPT specifically call this out. In addition, while solutions like Google are designed to provide you with the “best” or most correct answer to your queries, solutions like AI may be designed to give you the most human like answer. Which is better depends on what you are attempting to achieve.
- Not All AI is Equal: With AI becoming the latest hot technology, there are literally hundreds of startup companies now offering online AI services. Many of these want your information or credit card for you to try them out. Be careful, not all AI services are trustworthy. Do your research before signing up and using an AI service.
The Future of AI
Artificial Intelligence is still very much in its infancy, similar to where the Internet was twenty to thirty years ago. While we can expect rapid evolution and adoption of AI, it's very difficult to predict what its impact will be, both for good and evil. Just be aware that these capabilities are out there, and when using AI be very careful what information you enter and share.