Artificial intelligence today: What’s hype and what’s real?

Two decades into the AI revolution, deep learning is becoming a standard part of the analytics toolkit. Here’s what it means

Artificial intelligence today: What’s hype and what’s real?

Pick up a magazine, scroll through the tech blogs, or simply chat with your peers at an industry conference. You’ll quickly notice that almost everything coming out of the technology world seems to have some element of artificial intelligence or machine learning to it. The way artificial intelligence is discussed, it’s starting to sound almost like propaganda. Here is the one true technology that can solve all of your needs! AI is here to save us all!

While it’s true that we can do amazing things with AI-based techniques, we generally aren’t embodying the full meaning of the term “intelligence.” Intelligence implies a system with which humans can have a creative conversation—a system that has ideas and that can develop new ones. At issue is the terminology. “Artificial intelligence” today commonly describes the implementation of some aspects of human abilities, such as object or speech recognition, but certainly not the entire potential for human intelligence.

Thus “artificial intelligence” is probably not the best way to describe the “new” machine learning technology we’re using today, but that train has left the station. In any case, while machine learning is not yet synonymous with machine intelligence, it certainly has become more powerful, more capable, and easier to use. AI—meaning neural networks or deep learning as well as “classic” machine learning—is finally on its way to becoming a standard part of the analytics toolkit.

Now that we are well into the AI revolution (or rather evolution), it’s important to look at how the concept of artificial intelligence has been co-opted, why, and what it will mean in the future. Let’s dive deeper to investigate why artificial intelligence, even some slightly misconstrued version of it, has attracted the present level of attention.

The AI promise: Why now?

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