AI: what is Artificial Intelligence, how does it work and how has it been used in different industries?

Artificial intelligence is a controversial technology

The Collins Dictionary has named Artificial Intelligence (AI) as its word of the year after it has made waves across all industries. The use of AI boomed as programmes such as ChatGPT have made the tool more accessible for everyday work. 

However, this quickly became mired in controversy as people began using the tool, and other AI instruments, to create deepfakes, cheat on exams, and for other content which began to throw up the biases contained in their source material - such as sexism and racism. 

In the most recent AI summit, the prime minister said the technology would improve the economy in the long term as education reforms will boost skills. 

What is AI?

AI essentially allows computers to learn and solve problems in an almost human-esque manner as it is trained on huge amounts of information and learns to identify the patterns in it. 

There are several types of AI programs, some of which are generative - such as ChatGPT and DALL-E, where AI in these programs learn from vast quantities of data, such as online text and images, to generate new content which feels like it has been made by a human.

How has AI been used? 

AI is widely used throughout many industries and has provided some industries with some monumental breakthroughs. The technology is widely used throughout industry, government and science. 

AI has provided some monumental additions to certain lifestyles such as advanced web search engines (e.g., Google Search), recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon, and Netflix), understanding human speech (such as Siri and Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g., Waymo), generative or creative tools (ChatGPT and AI art), and competing at the highest level in strategic games (such as chess and Go).

In science, AI has provided some massive revelations such as developing a test that can confirm alien life with 90% accuracy to determine if a sample is biological or non-biological. The technology has also been used to reveal a word from a burnt scroll by Mount Vesuvius. AI has been used in astronomy to navigate the search for exoplanets and to remove optical interference created by Earth's atmosphere from images of space taken by ground-based telescopes. 

In healthcare, AI has been used to cut wait times in the NHS for cancer patients through OSAIRIS, and to determine if people have type 2 diabetes, as well as being used to do breast cancer screenings.

However, AI has also proven to be problematic. Recent news has revealed AI can lead to a very dangerous path. A recent report showed how paedophiles are using AI to 'de-age' celebs and 'nudity' clothed children. Going further, some people are using the technology to create 'astoundingly realistic' child abuse images and there have been calls on how to protect your privacy and data.

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