Power Equipment Australasia

OPINION Artificial Intelligence: A Present Reality The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been overused in the media to describe drones, robots, self-driving cars, facial recognition technology, and anything else that seems vaguely futuristic. In this edition, we explore why AI is not a technology of the distant future but is already a part of our daily lives. We will demystify the buzz surrounding AI and delve into some real concerns that deserve our attention. In the next edition, we will take a practical approach, leveraging AI to compose a letter and equipping you with the knowledge you need to embrace this transformative technology. A GLIMPSE INTO AI'S HISTORY AI is not a recent phenomenon but rather a culmination of centuries of mathematical and scientific research. The concept of AI started taking shape as far back as 1795 when the foundations of artificial neural networks were being laid. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was coined. These early pioneers in academia were striving to create machines that could mimic the workings of the human brain. I caught up with Professor Guy Wallis from the University of Queensland who started life as an engineer and now researches brains, in particular, how we see. Guy has a very deep understanding of AI and explained how long the research has been ready, waiting for the computing power and the internet to be ripe. A significant milestone in AI occurred in 2012 when an AI system, an artificial neural network, autonomously learned to recognize images of cats. This marked a turning point in the field, as it showcased the capabilities of AI in recognizing patterns and images. In simple terms, a neural network is a complex mathematical system that excels at learning by sifting through massive datasets and uncovering patterns. The internet, with its wealth of freely available data, has become the perfect playground for AI, enabling it to recognize patterns, process information, and draw meaningful conclusions. AI BEYOND AUTOMATION: WHAT AI TRULY REPRESENTS AI extends far beyond mere automation. It is the capacity of a machine to replicate cognitive functions typically associated with human minds. While we might recall smart devices such as toasters and washing machines that made life easier, they are not truly intelligent. These machines, although cleverly designed, lack the ability to “think” or adapt based on new information; they simply execute pre-programmed tasks. Growing up, mum would burn many things in the kitchen, especially toast with the manual toaster that required close supervision. It would burn toast on one side before giving you the opportunity to burn it all again on the other side. The daily scraping sound of toast being de-carbonized had the dog rushing to his food bowl as he knew I wouldn’t eat it. What saved the dog from obesity was that “intelligent” machine - the pop-up toaster. In this first of a two-part series, Gary Fooks delves into the world of AI and starts first with exploring its significance in our daily lives.