AI is commonly associated with marketing or technophobic hype: the media regularly exaggerates the capabilities of AI and, in certain circumstances, portrays dystopias as the long-term result of AI.

If we separate the hype from the progress accomplished in recent years, we will notice a number of significant technological advances with interesting new capabilities. And we can surely escape dystopias: AI will substantially enhance our world and quality of life under specific situations.

Artificial Intelligence defined

The technology that enables computers to incorporate cognitive processes combined with adaptive and learning capabilities — leading to self-improvement — is a non-technical, concise description of Artificial Intelligence.

Modern Artificial Intelligence systems are capable of capturing and ‘understanding' their surroundings in real time while making optimum, real-time decisions to achieve specified goals.

Multiple signals and data streams are processed to enable AI systems to ‘understand' photos, videos, and natural language. Technologies like Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing enable AI systems to ‘understand' pictures, videos, and natural language (voice or text). A few such instances are shown below.

Computer Vision — algorithms can now ‘see’

The capacity of a computer to ‘see' and recognise entities, events, and even tales in photographs and movies is a remarkable feat. Any picture or video may be scanned ‘instantly' against well-known things (people, vehicles, homes, streets, trees, and so on) and optionally with context-specific logic.

Furthermore, algorithms can estimate other qualities of the image and features of the things detected in it, such as the number of people in the photo, their gender, age, or even their emotional state; or the kind of automobiles and their brands, as in the example above.

It's also possible to figure out what's going on in the image or video, such as a children's party, a sporting event, a corporate meeting, or a random group of people in a park.

The possible applications of computer vision are impressive: From self-driving cars that can ‘see' in 360 degrees and comprehend their surroundings and dynamics in real time, to specific applications like Microsoft's Seeing AI, a prototype system that helps individuals who are visually handicapped or blind understand their surroundings.

The user may, for example, request a thorough description of the surrounding environment or updates on developments, and the response could be delivered in normal language via a synthetic voice.

Navigation systems, robotics, medical examination, online content management, and security systems are just a few examples of computer vision-based applications.

Computer Vision — algorithms can now ‘see’

The dialogue with the ‘machine’

A little contact with Amazon Alexa, Cortana, Siri, or Google Assistant is all it takes to see how far Natural Language Processing has progressed.

Microsoft and IBM claim that their natural language processing algorithms perform on par with (or better than) experienced transcribers when it comes to processing talks on a variety of topics. Despite the fact that NLP systems still struggle with diverse accents and loud settings, their overall performance is rapidly increasing.

Digital Assistant interaction has evolved from ad hoc "ask and answer" settings to "natural conversations." Digital Assistants are becoming smarter, thanks to the wealth of data available for users and their surroundings;

Digital Assistants will soon act autonomously, for example, by triggering a meaningful discussion based on non-obvious logic applied to signals from the user's environment and the system's deep knowledge of the user and his or her implied or explicitly stated preferences.

Your Digital Assistant will soon ask you a series of seemingly random but unexpectedly insightful questions, as well as offer timely recommendations for social, informative, educational, scheduling, and travel activities that you are interested in.

And, most importantly, it will learn and improve based on your levels of involvement and other lifestyle habits.

The value of AI and the concerns

This huge technological transformation is being driven by advancements in Artificial Intelligence technology, as well as growing capacities for handling and analysing vast amounts of data.

Thousands of billions of linked devices will provide events, operational data, and other data to advanced Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence technologies, which will be stored and processed.

This abundance of data, along with the growing capacity to automatically interpret it, will open up previously unimagined possibilities for improvement in health, lifestyle, transportation, education, and virtually every human activity.

However, there are major worries and unsolved issues about the potential social, political, and ethical consequences. For example, ‘intelligent automation,' which can be accomplished at scale through the use of Artificial Intelligence, is predicted to alter the way we work and the skills in demand: when jobs become fully automated, positions will become outdated, and certain professions will finally vanish.

Other voices express concerns about "who has access to and control" of the gathered data, derived knowledge, and Artificial Intelligence's power.

Preparing for the AI revolution

Our world is already being transformed by the technology revolution.

People must prepare for the new market order by first comprehending the technology, its promise, and the hazards that come with it; and then by adopting a life-learning mode to gain new skills and explore new abilities that are more relevant to the new market order.

States must recognise the new dynamics and respond by updating their laws, frameworks, social programmes, and educational systems.

To avoid concentration of power and control over data and technology, thought leaders must establish the appropriate norms and international agreements.