Artificial Intelligence, fondly popular as “AI” nowadays is present in some form from ancient times. Remember the solar clocks which follow the sun telling us time through the day ?
The concept of an artificial robot is written in fiction in recent times almost since early 19th century. Having said, the robotic revolution became popular from early 1940s.
British robotics pioneer William Grey Walter invented robots Elmer and Elsie that mimic lifelike behaviour using very simple electronics in 1948. George Devol in 1954 invented the first digitally operated and programmable robot called Unimate, which laid the foundation for the modern robotics industry. It eventually went online in a General Motors automobile factory in USA.
1959 – MIT demonstrated Computer-assisted manufacturing at their Servomechanisms Lab.
1963 – Design of the first computer-controlled artificial robotic arm.
1969 – First electrically powered, computer-controlled robot arm designed
1970 – First mobile robot controlled by artificial intelligence (AI)
1974 – A robotic arm performs small-parts assembly using feedback from touch & pressure sensors
Modern 21st century:
Commercial and industrial robots are performing jobs that are too dirty, dangerous or dull to be suitable for humans. They performed jobs more cost effectively and/or with better accuracy and reliability compared to humans. Now Robots are extensively used in various sectors from manufacturing, logistics (assembly, packing & transportation), Research, medical surgeries, and of course in volume production of consumer and industrial goods.
Remember the famous Star Wars movies?
The entire Star Wars series is full of robotics and various other artificial lifeforms, but it’s 1977’s Star Wars movie that first introduced the world to a pair of lovable bots named C-3PO and R2-D2. They continue to kindle imagination and wow factor in each movie later in the Star Wars franchise, through current modern era.
Imagine this. We may transpire in a world that’s virtually overrun by robots because the artificial lifeforms perform a variety of mundane (and not-so-mundane) tasks and jobs. The movie “I, Robot” (2004) showcased human imagination of what could be possible which is an enduring reality today!
However, the technology is still in its basics even today. What many companies are saying AI works today may not necessarily the real AI work. A true artificially-intelligent system is one that can learn on its own, can improve continually by iteration/s, getting smarter & more aware, thus enhancing its capabilities, knowledge incrementally and continuously throughout its life journey.
Some of the most important well-known examples of AI being used today are,
Mobile personal assistants: Google Now(Google), Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), the voice-activated apps that we use daily. They help find information (like news or weather forecast or sports scores), send messages/ emails, gives us navigational directions, add schedules to our calendars and so on. They are THE intelligent digital personal assistants at our hand. They learn as we use them and through machine-learning, gets smarter and better able to understand our questions or requests spoken in a natural language.
Self-driving Vehicles: Car companies like Tesla use the AI in their self-driving features in a car with its predictive capabilities adds driving so pleasurable. They can get only getting smarter and smarter through constant updates over the air internet connectivity.
Call centres – Implementing machine learning and behavioural science to improve the customer experience during millions upon millions of voice phone call-ins daily.
Music: Pandora’s AI is perhaps one of the most revolutionary technology in recent AI innovations. The system has an incredible track record for recommending songs that people absolutely love.
Energy Systems: Heating control products can now be voice-controlled, or app controlled, uses behavioural algorithms to learn from your heating and cooling needs, predictively, anticipating and thus adjusting the temperature based on your own personal needs whether you are at home or office.
Some other real-life benefits are, Efficient/Scalable Processing of Patient Data, Social Media Content Distribution, Text-Based Automated Bots, Business process automation, Sensor Data & Analysis like in Internet of Things (IoT) etc.
What’s in store for future:
AI has applications and use cases in almost every industry and is considered the next big technological paradigm shift, like past like the industrial revolution, the computers, and the smartphone revolution under the Industrial Revolution 4.0.
AI is going to be one of the key drivers in coming years and decades. Businesses needs to consider the requirements and benefit analysis and implement strategic recommendations rather than running behind every area of business looking for automation. Else, there is a risk of overselling Artificial Intelligence and its benefits. Business should realise that the data Is a key asset for Artificial Intelligence, and so are the Algorithms that will be built to meet the purpose.
Ultimately a more practical focus on use cases that will benefit a business should define the use of AI.