Is this AI?

The definition of artificial intelligence is constantly evolving, making it difficult to decipher what is, and isn’t, using AI. This flowchart by Karen Hao for MIT’s Technology Review is a helpful guide.

Broadly speaking, AI refers to machines that can learn, reason, and act for themselves. They can make their own decisions when faced with new situations, in the same way that humans and animals can.

Machine learning is a subset of AI, and it’s the area where the vast majority of AI advancements and technology used today are being made. These algorithms use statistics to find patterns in massive amounts of data. They then use those patterns to make predictions about things like what shows you might like on Netflix, what you’re saying when you speak to Alexa, or whether your heart rate is too high based on your FitBit reading.

AI has undoubtedly changed the way we live, but it’s still only a fraction of what artificial intelligence could be. While it may have mastered the complex game of Go, it still lacks basic common sense. Its current iteration is trained to recognise patterns, so if the pattern changes suddenly it isn’t capable of coming up with an innovative solution.

Because of this, AI can be difficult to recognise or define. Follow the path below for a simple tour of what is, and isn’t, AI.

So, could this lack of appropriately skilled workers usher in a new age of workforce? Perhaps organisations will be forced into investing in AI and robotic automation simply because they can’t recruit the highly skilled positions they would prefer to be filled by people. However, whilst the notion of whole industries becoming fully automated is still a dystopian nightmare, until the skills shortage is rectified businesses will continue to suffer.

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