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Eric Wright

AI is Already Here, and Life is Already Better

"Two things have always been true about human beings. One, the world is always getting better. Two, the people living at that time think it`s getting worse." - Penn Jillette

That quote matters for a few reasons in what we are going to discuss here.  AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the hottest topics lately with the rise of the use of software-powered systems and software consuming and controlling other software.   There is also an odd fear of what is coming with the use of AI as if there is some robot army that will take the human race down.

While the world debates the reaches and risks of vastly adopted AI across society, the world has already undergone a profound change by adopting AI without many folks realizing it.  AI also has some fuzzy definitions about exactly what is within the bounds of just AI and where things like Machine Learning (ML) are introduced.  There may also be some heated debates over where an algorithm alone is AI.

Wikipedia gives us a few references to origination and definition of AI beginning with this:

AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.

Now that we have a definition, let's get to the good stuff.

My 2 Year Old Uses AI, and it's Amazing

In 2018 there is no doubt that you and your family are using AI in some way.  Even children's games may contain some elements of AI and the mini-robots and interactive systems that kids have access to today are often including AI.  Before you get worried that machines are teaching our kids, remember that these are systems that take an input (children's interactions) and then provides a calculated and adapted output.  By the definition of AI above, we just need to understand the goal to see where the AI lives in these systems.

AI and systems are not going to replace the things that brought our society and culture to this place and time.  AI will enhance our ability to accelerate doing amazing things using the very technology that very recent generations created.  Our children will have access to things that include better medical treatment, self-driving cars, learning systems that specifically tap into their learning styles, and much more.

AI will augment a very human-oriented society to let us do more amazing things because of the things that AI has already brought us.  It's even begun by the challenging the rate of innovation which was measured by the boundaries that were observed by Moore's Law.  The acceleration of innovation at the chip-layer in technology is not being exponentially increased with the use of AI and software.

AI is the new Baseline

As the famous line goes in the series Halt and Catch Fire:  "Computers aren't the thing.  They're the thing that gets us to the thing".  This is the same with the idea of our journey to the cloud.  Cloud is not a place, it's a way of thinking.  There is no destination, there is a rewrite of the way we operate.  AI is doing that for us already as well.

One of the challenges that comes as any technology becomes broadly accepted is the competitive battles over who got there first.  This is human nature played out in a technology landscape.  What I would encourage you to do is not to look at who got there first, or who got there fastest, but what AI can do for you and how that really is the measure of what matters.

As I watch my youngest child tap on an iPad as if he was born knowing how to use it, this reminds me that the future is here.  Microsoft Ignite showcased amazing use-cases for AI with things like Digital Twins to apply heuristics to environmental models to predict people flow through architectural designs.  I was at an IBM event which recapped a financial institution's shift to both their technology and business models to embrace digital on boarding for customers which had a profound and positive effect on both the customer and the employee experience.

This is an exciting time all around.  Welcome to the new AI-powered world.  Now, let's do amazing things with it.


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