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AI Explained in 140 Characters

There is a lot of information out there about AI: what it is, what it’s not, and multiple definitions that fit different contexts and markets. This short, easy-to-digest explanation is based on thorough research and understanding of the field: “Simply put, artificial intelligence covers a broad range of evolving technologies that combine stats, data, and modern computing power to transform human potential.” This explanation draws from a variety […]

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September 30, 2019

There is a lot of information out there about AI: what it is, what it’s not, and multiple definitions that fit different contexts and markets. This short, easy-to-digest explanation is based on thorough research and understanding of the field:

“Simply put, artificial intelligence covers a broad range of evolving technologies that combine stats, data, and modern computing power to transform human potential.”

This explanation draws from a variety of definitions, including:

  • “The term ‘artificial intelligence’ covers a broad and continually evolving range of technologies that are being used in many different applications and industries.” – Gartner
  • “The study of the modeling of human mental functions by computer programs.” — Collins Dictionary
  • “Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.” — Stanford University
  • “Artificial Intelligence is a science and a set of computational technologies that are inspired by—but typically operate quite differently from—the ways people use their nervous systems and bodies to sense, learn, reason, and take action.” –  Stanford
  • “We argue that AI technology is likely to be a transformative military technology, on a par with the invention of aircraft and nuclear weapons. ” – Harvard

It’s challenging to define artificial intelligence.

First, intelligence is hard to define, so artificial intelligence is even harder. Definitions of intelligence exist, but the term is used in a variety of contexts and not always in the same way.

Second, how people use the term and what they mean by it changes over time. For example, is using the current traffic flow to calculate the fastest route home artificial intelligence? It is a form of AI, but it is so commonplace today that many people don’t consider it to be.

Third, people use many terms synonymously, like artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and data science. It can be very difficult to establish a shared understanding of all these terms.

So, why this explanation?

  • “Evolving” – Rapidly changing technologies mean that current approaches are ephemeral in nature; effective strategies must remain focused on future potential.
  • “Technologies” – The conversation today is dominated by what computers can do and what tools are available for them. Increasingly inexpensive processing power paired with the explosion of digital data has vastly increased AI’s promise.
  • “Combine stats, data, and modern computing power” – Computational power, large amounts of data, and low storage costs can be combined to do things with computers that were difficult or prohibitively costly before. This includes filtering thousands or millions of documents to discover trends, generating fake video, or developing pricing and sales forecasts.
  • “Transform human potential” – Computers aren’t “thinking” but working through a series of algorithms very rapidly based on data. Artificial Intelligence does not encompass learning, intuition, or even human decision-making. Rather, it is using data and computational power to elevate human activities.

A final note:

Here at Excella, we are focused on identifying creative technology solutions that will solve business problems – and this includes using AI.

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