Initially restricted to the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is seeing widespread adoption across industries. More businesses are finding innovative ways to incorporate AI. Consumers already use AI in everyday life to search for their next tv show, make purchases, research homework, or book a flight.
Since it’s so pervasive, what is AI? How is AI used? How can it help your business? This article will give a brief explanation and some examples of artificial intelligence in action.
What Is AI?
Created to mimic human intelligence, artificial intelligence is a system that enables machines to perform tasks that people can do. It allows them to solve complex problems, learn from them, and make decisions.
AI technology has limitations. People can walk and chew gum at the same time, but AI functions best when given limited objectives. Humans are also good at evaluating situations and determining an action independently. AI needs explicit instructions to complete its goal, especially in the beginning stages. What are some parts that make up AI and how does AI work?
Sometimes, the language describing AI is confusing. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning are expressions often used interchangeably, but more accurately, machine learning is a tool AI uses to analyze and learn from a set of data. It finds patterns in the data it has gathered and these patterns teach it how to respond to similar patterns in the future.
Machine learning typically requires human input to build, train, and refine its algorithms (a set of rules a computer uses to solve a problem). With these systems, people may provide the initial input that, after being processed by an algorithm, produces an output. When an extensive set of quality data is used to train a system, it can produce high-quality results and provide valuable insights for its users.
Neural networks are another tool used in AI. Inspired by the way neurons connect in the brain, neural networks connect nodes (central points where lines connect or branch out). Each node handles a certain activity. The more connections there are, the greater the ability of the network.
The applications of artificial intelligence are nearly endless. Depending on the field, different types of artificial intelligence can be deployed for inspections, automation, speech recognition, translation, or online advertising.
For example, someone can speak into a transcription software, then the software will take this input, process it, and create a text file from that speech. This outcome is from a machine learning algorithm.
We have come to expect AI in our GPS, online orders, and social media, but are tech companies the only ones that make use of AI’s power?
Examples of AI in Non-Tech Businesses
Healthcare and manufacturing are two sectors that rely on and benefit from artificial intelligence. How?
The field of medicine is data driven. Where there’s data, AI algorithms can process it. The outcomes often provide an understanding that helps doctors, scientists, and policy-makers determine the best practices for the public they serve.
AI is especially helpful for the medical profession because of the vast amount of information it generates. This can include:
Every time a person goes to a hospital, speaks to a doctor, or requests medicine through an app, they are generating data. Without AI systems, workers could never keep up with the high volume of data coming from every individual seeking care. AI systems can handle it effortlessly.
Because AI can process far more information than traditional software or people, it can present a big picture of trends. This perspective can turn raw information into context for action.
For example, AI can detect and predict the spread of disease. This aids healthcare providers in making important medical decisions. Lives depend on AI algorithms every day.
Manufacturing has become far more complicated than creating, distributing, and selling objects. Thousands of people can be involved in taking a product from an idea, to a reality, to the customers’ homes.
The industry heavily uses AI for automating tasks, managing employees, and customer retention. Other manufacturing areas that depend on AI are:
Supply chain management
Because AI is fast, accurate, and flexible, it generates value for its users.
A manufacturer can save time and money if they deploy a system that predicts when a machine will need maintenance. They can complete this maintenance before the equipment breaks, preventing losses from unexpected downtime.
What Are the Advantages of Artificial Intelligence?
As noted above, AI can save businesses time and money and help drive healthcare policies and procedures, but that’s not all. By applying artificial intelligence to their practice, businesses can make data-driven decisions. They can use their systems to improve services, keep employees and customers, increase productivity, and reduce waste.
AI can quickly and accurately process billions of data points, giving leaders the information they need to make the best choices. Here are more upsides to using artificial intelligence:
Reduce decision fatigue. Humans have limits on how much information they can process, evaluate, and judge, but an AI system has no such limits.
Not limited to business hours, AI systems can run 24/7.
Reduce human error on repetitive tasks. Humans are prone to making increasing errors the longer they stick to a single task. AI can perform the same operations billions of times with fidelity.
While the AI field is still developing, businesses that adopt it sooner will have an advantage. They’ll have a robust and refined system that produces important insights. These companies will have a greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of AI in their fields. They will be in a better position to respond to the trends affecting them.
If you want to use AI in your business, what approach should you take?
Start with your problem. It’s easy to get excited about the prospects of artificial intelligence, dreaming up a system that could accomplish some task, but is that what your business needs? Don’t get stuck with a solution needing a problem. Think about a challenge your company faces now and how you can leverage data to solve it.
Focus on the data. If you use mislabeled or poorly classified data, you won’t achieve acceptable results with your program. Make sure your training data is accurate and relevant to the task at hand.
Plan for the future. Determine how you will deploy and maintain your system. Include future iterations of the system in your plans.
Not clarifying a problem. Artificial intelligence and machine learning won’t help if they’re thrown at a problem without fully understanding it. Choosing where and how to implement an AI system requires thought, care, and intense planning. Know your problem, envision how you want to solve it. Design your AI to accomplish that goal.
Prepare for challenges and complications that can arise. As with any business undertaking, there will be challenges. Data sets could be too small or too large to be meaningful. Incorrectly classified data could corrupt results. Imagine the unique problems you might encounter and how to mitigate them.
Make sure software is up to task. Test new programs, making sure they work as promised. Software that breaks down late in the process can cause lost time and money.
Doing it alone. Get experts for data gathering, processing, and data interpretations to make the most AI in your business. There are companies devoted entirely to gathering training data for machine learning processes, and companies that specialize in designing bespoke AI software. These can make the legwork much easier as you prepare to bring AI to your company.
This article answered four key questions:
What is AI? Artificial Intelligence is a system that allows machines to perform tasks that previously only humans could do. AI encompasses machine learning, neural networks, and many other computing tools.
Who uses AI? Industries across the globe are taking advantage of artificial intelligence, from healthcare to logistics to manufacturing to education.
What value can AI bring to a business? From automation to forecasting, AI can streamline business processes and free up time and labor for other important tasks.
What should you consider when implementing AI? Make sure you clearly define the system’s purpose and use high-quality data. Prepare for challenges and have a robust support team to make your AI project a success.
Article by Shanita Andrews
Infographic by Melissa Prellejera