What is AI? Everything you need to know

null

Far from being the stuff of science-fiction, artificial intelligence, or AI, is becoming an increasingly common sight in today's world.

Combining the latest powerful software with top-of-the-range hardware, AI tools are being used to transform many areas of everyday life, from healthcare to traffic problems.

But what is AI, and how is it being used today? Here is our guide to everything you need to know, and some of the most innovative and interesting use cases around today.

What is AI?

For years, it was thought that computers would never be more powerful than the human brain, but as development has accelerated in modern times, this has proven to be not the case.

AI as a concept refers to computing hardware being able to essentially think for itself, and make decisions based on the data it is being fed. AI systems are often hugely complex and powerful, with the ability to process unfathomable depths of information in an extremely quick time in order to come to an effective conclusion.

Thanks to detailed algorithms, AI systems are now able to perform mammoth computing tasks much faster and more efficiently than human minds, helping making big strides in research and development areas around the world.

Some of the most notable real-world applications of AI are IBM's Watson, which is being used to power research in a huge range of fields,  with Microsoft's Azure Machine Learning and TensorFlow also making headlines around the world.

But AI-powered smart assistants are becoming a common presence on mobile devices too, with the likes of Siri, Cortana and Alexa all being welcomed into many people's lives.

There seems no limit to the applications of AI technologies, and perhaps the most exciting aspect of the ecosystem is that there's no telling where it can go next, and what problems it may ultimately be able to solve.

AI latest news and launches

09/08 - Intel reveals major AI chip push

AI hardware brought in over $1bn last year, Intel says...

08/08 - AI drones could work as aerial sheepdogs to herd birds away from airports 

A new way to prevent bird strikes...

08/08 - Samsung invests billions in 5G and AI

Samsung's £17bn investment programme looks to guard against smartphone slowdown...

02/08 - Why AI is the best tool to help build your next website

Wix chief tells us about AI's influence on the web design world...

31/07 - Worldwide AI investment to top $200bn by 2025  

KPMG report highlights major opportunities for AI, machine learning and RPA...

25/07 - Google is bringing AI to the call centre

Call centres set to get smarter than ever as Google also reveals new Machine Learning tools...

19/07 - Elon Musk and fellow tech giants pledge to only use AI for good

Hundreds of firms sign up to promise not to build AI weaponry...

17/07 - AI may not be a UK job killer

AI will create as many jobs as it is claimed it will destroy, PwC report predicts...

16/07 - Huawei is preparing a major AI hardware push

Mysterious "Da Vinci" project could mean super-smart networking equipment and AI chips...

14/07 - Wimbledon 2018: How IBM Watson is serving up the best viewer experience

We see how the world’s greatest tennis tournament is using IBM Watson for its smartest viewing experience yet...

12/07 - No more noise? NVIDIA researchers develop AI that removes image noise

Noisy photos could one day be just a bad memory...

05/07 - UK and France sign major AI agreement

Cross-government partnership will see British and French organisations work together on cutting-edge AI technology...

04/07 - Facebook buys British AI company to help it better understand human speech

Facebook has bought Bloomsbury AI, a British company specializing in natural language processing. The Bloomsbury team will join Facebook's London office, where they'll add their skills to the social network's growing artificial intelligence division...

(Image: © DeepMind)

28/06 - Two thirds of UK workers want more duties automated

A study of 1,200 UK workers has found that many people believe machines shouldn't replace people in boring meetings, but they're welcome to take the minutes...

22/06 - Microsoft gives Marks & Spencer an AI facelift

One of the UK's oldest shops is set for a technology makeover after Marks and Spencer announced a new partnership with Microsoft. The computing giant will be working with M&S to bring its AI technologies into the company's stores and customer experiences, helping transform the 134-year-old institution into a "Digital First" retailer...

19/06 - Facebook's AI can take your blinking selfies and digitally open your eyes

Using a machine learning technique called 'generative adversarial network,' or GAN, Facebook researchers taught an AI to observe a picture in which you blinked, compare it to an unblinking photo of you, and then use “in-painting” to substitute your closed eyelids for open eyes...

19/06 - Hisense's AI TV will make you an armchair World Cup expert

At CES Asia, China's biggest technology show, Hisense demonstrated its vision with an AI-powered TV that works as a virtual football pundit to help even non-fans wrap their heads around all the tournament's finer details...

15/06 - Gmail turns to AI for smarter email notifications on your phone

As part of the recent Gmail redesign, Google unveiled a new feature, currently for iOS only, that ensures your Gmail app only sends you push notifications when “high-priority” emails come in...

15/06 - Major Windows 10 updates are getting better and faster with AI

Microsoft has revealed that it used artificial intelligence to drive the speed and efficiency of the rollout of its latest April 2018 Update for Windows 10...

11/06 - London hailed as AI capital of Europe

London has been named as the AI capital of Europe in a new report that highlights the UK's standing as one of the top technology hubs in the world...

08/06 - Google creates its own AI rulebook - promises it won't go all Terminator on us

Google may have quietly dropped its Don't Be Evil tagline but it is still firmly in the 'we're not planning to end the world' camp when it comes to AI. To prove it, it's released a comprehensive list of guidelines that it is going to adhere to when it comes to everything it is doing with AI...

07/06 - MIT creates 'psychopath' AI using the dark side of Reddit

To study how AI can become corrupted by biased data, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to intentionally turn its AI into a psychopath named Norman—a reference to the villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho... 

07/05 - Microsoft wants to empower people with disabilities through AI for Accessibility

Microsoft is greatly expanding its mission to help those with disabilities through AI for Accessibility. The software maker announced the new $25 million, 5-year program designed to empower one-billion people with disabilities around the world through AI. To this end, Microsoft will put its money and resources towards helping developers to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions...