Artificial intelligence (AI) is the branch of computer science that enables machines to perform activities that up to now have required human know-how, such as image or speech recognition. Virtual assistants are probably the most familiar everyday manifestations of AI, and the big players in the AI field have their own avatars: Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Google Assistant, and Cortana (Microsoft).
However, the impact of applied AI is now being felt, particularly across sectors such as health sciences. Here, AI-driven solutions automate and improve the efficiency of complex processes for the early detection of certain cancers and reduce the risks to patients in treatment programmes for those conditions.
Spending on cognitive and AI systems worldwide is expected to more than quadruple by 2021, according to International Data Corporation. That would see expenditure on these technologies grow from $12.0 billion in 2017 to a staggering $57.6 billion by 2021. Much of that spending is likely go to cloud-based AI services, outstripping investment in software and hardware.
AI benefits a multitude of industries
In the near future, Applied AI will continue to colonise more applications and industries. Especially in the realm of public safety and emergency response – in roles as varied as tackling terrorism or transport engineering.
Nevertheless, the development of more generalised AI involves another order of complexity and even tougher challenges. The ultimate goal of AI is to deliver a computer system that can think and communicate as humans do. The achievement of this goal is still some years off. Some experts doubt it will happen in the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, researchers are making advances. They have helped spur the development of machine learning to improve the efficiency of pattern recognition and the performance of AI applications to process ever-larger volumes of data faster.
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