Bring up the term Artificial Intelligence and many people think of science fiction thrillers in which computers threaten the existence of human kind. The truth is machines that learn and perform tasks based on that accumulated knowledge are already here, and they interface quite nicely with humans. In fact, businesses are finding many ways to use intelligent machines to make their companies more productive. Here are five ways businesses are using AI today.
1. AI and Predictive Models
Bed-and-breakfast or vacation rental owners listing properties through Airbnb have used AI to determine rental prices for their properties based upon the season, the amenities offered and other factors. The platform is called Aerosolve, and the company has made it available on Github so people can access the tool. Aerosolve is not a set of algorithms that repeatedly performs the same tasks. It is a “package” of algorithms that can “learn” from data that users enter. Data entered into the computer can teach the algorithms the parameters of pointillism art, for instance, and the computer learns to “paint” in that style. Given other data about demographics, the computer “learns” what factors affect income and can produce a predictive chart for populations not included in the original algorithms. That information can help businesses determine where to locate offices or assist healthcare clinics in finding under-served communities.
2. Artificial Intelligence and Less Speculative Business Decisions
Amazon has introduced a cloud service that businesses can utilize to manage huge sets of data. This application is in its infancy but, with the speed technology evolves, will soon be an effective tool. Right now, the service uses data that companies input to help them predict which of a select number of outcomes is likely to occur. Forbes notes that the amount of data our culture has accumulated is reaching the point at which humans will no longer be able to manage it without help. That help comes in the form of intelligent machines. How can businesses profit from Amazon’s predictive service? Accessing the large field of data about consumer behaviors and demand history along with other information, the computer learns how to predict things like how much product to stock and what to charge for it.
3. AI in Drug Discovery
A company called Atomwise is using intelligent machines to speed up drug discovery. The computers utilize data about the side effects of certain drugs, and about which diseases or conditions drugs impact. Then they learn how to use the algorithms to identify other uses for the existing chemical interventions. That process saves time and money in experimentation. Atomwise was the first company to find two compounds that could retard the spread of Ebola.
4. Intelligent Translation Machines
People can translate almost anything using their computers. The process once took several minutes because it relied on human input after the word or phrase was introduced. Advances in computer technology made the process faster, but it was limited to words that existed in “virtual dictionaries” of many languages. Translation depended upon whether the exact word or phrase had a specific counterpart in the other language. Google translate API opens another frontier of AI. Google assesses a fee to users who then can build translation services using the system. Google’s computer translator learns the meaning of the words it identifies and can even use idioms in getting at the exact interpretation.
5. Facial Recognition Learning
Anyone who has used Facebook knows that the social platform draws squares around faces in photographs users post and identifies the subjects. The computer doing this doesn’t actually recognize the people in the picture. What it does recognize is the similarities between the image and others posted by the Facebook user and by his friends. It “learns” what the person looks like. Using data from posts and profiles, the computer can identify the image. That intelligence allows governments to identify people coming into airports who represent a security threat to the country. It also links traffic violator images taken with traffic cameras to driver’s license data. That lets municipalities mail tickets to offenders. It could also provide companies that own parking facilities with data to assess charges for times when the premises were unmanned.
Technology changes daily. Businesses will find many more ways to use intelligent machines in the next years or even months. The Forbes assessment that data is growing too fast for humans to manage alone is accurate. That is why business must continue to explore its connection to Artificial Intelligence.
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