The term artificial intelligence (AI) has been used far and wide within the realm of data science and beyond – but what exactly is it and what are its capabilities? The premise behind AI is to mimic a human brain inside a machine, accomplished primarily by an algorithm that is continuously learning.
AI holds the key to solving a range of real-world problems. For instance, in 2009, the year Google first started developing its autonomous car, there were 2,605 road deaths in the UK. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented with AI-based self-driving cars. These have features such as ultrasonic sensors that detect obstacles at the front and rear of the car, which would enable the car to spot a human and swerve, or notice a car in front and slow down – actions that may have been missed by human error.
Other capabilities of AI can be seen to improve peoples’ lives. For instance, in 2017, Microsoft released Seeing AI, an app to help visually impaired individuals have a better grasp of their surroundings by “narrating” the world around them. This app can scan product codes to identify products at hand. It can also save and remember faces, estimate their age, emotions, and gender and convey this information in real time, helping the user feel more connected to society.
Above and beyond improving the welfare of individuals and communities, AI can be used to great advantage in business, helping firms reduce costs by automating processes and generating revenue by improving customer experience through fewer instances for human error. There are some distinct examples of AI use within businesses, such as using chatbots that respond to customer queries. For instance, Knorr, a food division at Unilever, created an AI chatbot called ‘Chef Wendy’, which can have SMS conversations and send recipes to hungry individuals based on what ingredients they have at home – and surprisingly customers were often unaware that Wendy is not a real person!
Robotics is another example. Amazon, for instance, famously uses over 1,000,000 robots in their warehouses worldwide to take customer orders and facilitate on-time deliveries. Insights can also be drawn from machine learning – one of the many conduits of AI, where regression models can, for example, estimate a customer’s next purchase, given a range of characteristics highlighted through data.
The question thus arises – how well-known is AI in business? The benefits of AI – if used effectively – are undeniable. Businesses can save time and money by automating processes, avoiding human error, and improving customer responsiveness.
AI can mine vast amounts of data and generate quality leads capable of increasing a business’ customer base. While only 61% of businesses currently use AI within the UK – this is no doubt an area many businesses will explore, especially with the proliferation of accessible data from social media, browsing history, or card payment transactions.
The future of AI is a world with no palpable difference between a human mind and AI, or more remarkably, an existence where AI is capable of outsmarting humans and creating a digitally augmented world. With rapidly increasing AI solutions and a vast wealth of available data, it’s time we transformed the average business into an AI-driven, customer-centric empire.
Authored by Fatima Asad
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