Last week, a few of us attended HubSpot's Inbound Conference in Boston. We learned about product updates and got up to speed on the latest trends in marketing and technology. One of the fascinating talks I attended was called "Demystifying AI: What it is and what it means for your business." The talk was led by Mimi An, Principal Research Analyst at HubSpot. Mimi did an excellent job breaking down the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and explaining what the implications are for businesses and society as a whole.
What does the growth of artificial intelligence mean for us? Keep reading.
Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. AI is possible because systems can now process huge amounts of data.
We can organize artificial intelligence into three groups:
- Natural Language Processing
- Machine Learning
- Neural Networks
Let's break these down...
Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing is the most basic form of artificial intelligence. It means programs can understand basic human commands. Think “Siri” on your iPhone.
This is where things start to get interesting. With machine learning, computers have the ability to learn something without explicitly being programmed. Spotify playlists and Netflix recommendations are examples of machine learning programs.
This was the part of the session that made me go:
With neural networks, developers use artificial intelligence to make a program work like your brain works. One of the most advanced neural-network AI projects is Google's DeepMind. DeepMind's AlphaGo program "took on the world’s best player at Go - one of the most complex and intuitive games ever devised, with more positions than there are atoms in the universe - and won." On a more meaningful scale, DeepMind is helping Google lower its energy usage in global data centers.
What are the implications of AI on businesses?
Here are some things that artificial intelligence can do right now:
- Track your brand mentions
- Create a logo
- Find an audience for your advertisements (Facebook's lookalike audiences)
- Automate sales and support responses (Chatbots)
- Write press releases (the majority of sports releases and investment press releases are already generated by AI).
As for the long-term implications, the outlook is fuzzier. Hopefully artificial intelligence will play a role in augmenting our jobs and creating new jobs, rather than destroying them.
What does the evolution of Artificial Intelligence mean for you?
Artificial Intelligence can be an overwhelming and scary topic. Case in point: a few months ago, Facebook dabbled with an artificial intelligence chatbot program. The chatbots invented their own language that no one but the bots could not understand. Facebook decided to shut down the program, although they did not admit that they were shutting it down because of the secret language their chatbots invented. Outsiders like me were skeptical of that claim. Incidents like these make me worry that we're heading towards the days of Skynet in Terminator 2, but should we be worried?
My mom always told me that worrying rarely does any good, and I think her advice applies here. Instead of worrying, maybe we should prepare for the inevitable. Mimi offered these tips as we face the growth of artificial intelligence:
- Be open minded.
- Stay up to date.
- Get involved, especially with respect to regulations.
- Accept the fact that the technology will evolve, whether we want it to or not.
How do you feel about artificial intelligence?
I'd love to read your thoughts and opinions in the comments.