Artificial Intelligence (or AI) is a term that is starting to come up more in tech conversation. As 2016 looks to be the year of the AI, we’re going to highlight some of the most incredible examples of artificial intelligence online so far.
(This blog was originally published on 25 February 2016 but was updated on
1 November 2016)
AI in 2016
Because of films like ‘Terminator’ and ‘2001: Space Odyssey', artificial intelligence has had negative connotations. But we shouldn’t think of AI as evil. Artificial intelligence has been used in many different shapes and forms to help improve the way we work.
A few months ago, Google announced they had incorporated an AI algorithm called RankBrain to improve search results. Now that Google’s new Head of Search is going to be taken over by their chief of Machine Learning, we can see Google is leaning towards an AI future.
source: Bloomberg News
Early this year, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced his personal aim for the year was to build a “simple AI -- like Jarvis from Iron Man -- to help run my home and help me with work.”
2015 was a big year for AI and we see more companies using artificial intelligence in their online systems.
As AI is growing in popularity, we’ve listed some of the best examples of artificial intelligence online today. You might know some of these or even be surprised to learn some of your favourite online programmes have AI.
1) Siri, Google Now, Cortana: Virtual personal assistants
iPhone users, Google users and Microsoft users already know about their virtual assistants. These AI apps are very intelligent - they can access the internet to find the best answer to your enquiries. They can remind you when you’ve got an appointment and they can be quite witty too.
2) Virtual Customer Assistants
Have you ever been on a website and a conversation box appears? It’s usually a polite customer service assistant asking if you need any help. Naturally, you would think it’s a real person on the other side, but in fact it could be an AI virtual assistant.
At Shell, they have Emma and Ethan. They know all the details of Shell’s 3000 products. They are still new additions to the Shell team so they are still under review.
3) Smart Amazon reviews
Amazon has integrated a machine learning algorithm to combat fake reviews.
Originally, product reviews on Amazon were based on an average of the overall rating. This can severely decline a rating (or improve) if someone has been spamming a product with fake reviews.
Amazon's smart AI is able to go through reviews and judge if they are relevant to the product they are describing.
Amazon’s AI algorithm is still fairly new and if it proves to be successful, other review sites will be taking up the same practice. Having an AI would be significantly cheaper than hiring a team to manually go through reviews, don’t you think?
4) Personalized news feeds
Social media platforms have been doing this for a while. Algorithms behind personalised news feeds are created to gather what they think the users ‘wants to see.’ Facebook and LinkedIn already have personalised news feeds and even Twitter has been playing with personalised features.
These AI algorithms are designed to learn about the online user and then find information they would like best to see.
Many news sites, like Yahoo!, have also integrated these personalised features to enhance engagement on their sites.
5) Fraud prevention
AI has continued to be used to improve online security and prevent fraud. Artificially intelligent algorithms can inspect user behaviour so if they see any suspicious activity, they can flag it.
MasterCard uses Expert Monitoring which is artificial intelligence which is designed to assess and detect fraud. This helps protect the buyer and cut down on fraud. If you get a phone call from your bank because of unusual activity, it’s possible an AI detected it first.
6) Smart medical apps
Even though we hope our doctors, nurses and health care providers are well educated and experienced, it’s impossible for them to know everything. More medical apps are being used in hospitals to help diagnose patients.
Modernizing Medicine, is an artificially intelligent app that gives medical staff access to instant information and helps diagnose patients.
7) Video Games
And we can't forget this one.
AI is being popularly used in computer games. Artificial intelligence has made video game characters more realistic to create an immersive experience for gamers. Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite is an AI companion who was popularly discussed for her 'human' personality.
However there is one game that deserves a mention when it comes to the topic of AI.
Artificial intelligence is used to create the realistic real life game we see in The Sims. Sims aren’t lifeless beings who only act by your command, they make their own decisions based on their needs and desires.
Peter Ingebretson, a software engineer on The Sims 4, explains how AI is used in the game, "In many other games, the AI serves as a foil to the player. The AI is controlling characters to do fundamentally different things than the player characters do….They're really operating in a different world with different possibilities… [In The Sims] if you just sit back and watch your computer for a while, the AI will take over and also control the actions of your sims. That means our AI has to be more honest and has to make more believable decisions."
New AI Assistants That Have Appeared On The Scene in 2016
You can't deny it, AI is the future. More businesses are incorporating AI functions into their products and services to stay ahead of the curve and impress their target audience. Without a doubt, the common objective for most companies creating artificial intelligence is to help make our lives easier.
Google's RankBrain is designed to help you find better search results when searching for answers. But that's an example of AI online, here are some AI assistants that were released (and announced) this year to benefit people at home.
Amazon Echo is a voice-activated AI assistant that lets you play music, search the web, check your calendar, set alarms, order online and control your home (change temperature, turn off lights and activate other devices).
Amazon Echo (Image Credit: bhphotovideo.com)
Just by saying 'Alexa' you activate the small AI device and immediately start making your requests.
While you may think Siri is a very advanced form of AI, when compared to the Amazon Echo it's quickly falling behind. From current reviews, Amazon's AI is the most advanced voice assistant currently on the market, provides accurate answers and gives you the opportunity to have hands-free access to apps and electronics in your home.
Amazon's Alexa is incredible but she still has a way to go. She is a slow learner and struggles with multiple commands. Because she gets attuned to your voice exactly, if your voice changes because of a cold or you've just woken up she can struggle to recognise your voice.
Despite the bugs, Amazon Echo is currently the leader in AI assistance.
Google Home (Image Credit: pocket-lint.com)
Similar to Amazon's, Google Home is a hands-free AI assistant which can give you fast answers, plays your music playlists, edits your calender and much more. One notable feature is Google Home comes in more different colours and styles unlike Amazon Echo. Which is probably more preferable for people who want an AI device that integrates with the cosmetic aesthetics of their home.
While Amazon Echo can access the internet to search for answers, it's hard to think it would be able to compete with Google Home, when Google has access to their entire search engine. But in comparison, Amazon is linked to the owner's buyer account which makes it so much easier to shop (I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing for your bank account).
Google Home is not available to buy yet (available from 4 November 2016) but what it promises to do definitely makes it a worthy competitor with Amazon's Alexa. In regards to looks, I'm personally drawn towards Google Home but at the end of the day, you want an AI assistant. In current reviews about Alexa, there are times when she thinks the television is issuing commands and will turn off lights and remove alarms. These minor hindrances can have a negative impact on your home and work life. It's clear once these bugs are cleared up, more homes will be taking advantage of AI assistants in the home.
Artificial intelligence is the future for businesses
As an inbound marketing agency, we're looking forward to what AI has in store for us in the future. We've got some insight from our inbound team:
From Andrew Thomas, Inbound Marketing Consultant.
"Whilst current developments and investment in marketing AI are focused in ecommerce and retail (virtual assistants etc), once the technology matures and become more reliable I'm sure we will begin to see machine learning built into native marketing apps and marketing software platforms such as HubSpot. As automation becomes more and more prominent for marketers I see AI playing a huge role in assisting with workflow setup and especially adjustment, which is where the 'time spent' has now been moved too."
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