A man by the name of Colin Angle, the chairman, chief executive officer, and founder of the robot in-home vacuum cleaner once said “It’s going to be interesting to see how society deals with artificial intelligence, but it will definitely be cool.” Society has definitely made some serious technological advances in the past century. Mankind has developed machines that can provide the workforce equivalent of ten people combined. Society today could not function without the internet, which holds at least 4.42 billion web pages. Nothing can compare to the world’s most complicated computers. Inventions that can do your homework for you, answer almost any question you ask, fly people anywhere their heart desires, and even drive you to school. The line is blurred between computers that are programmed and programs that adapt for themselves. I’m talking about artificial intelligence or AI for short. But scientists didn’t just come up with these ideas out of the blue, they had precursors to start with.
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The very first recorded idea of a functioning “mechanized automata”, a fancy name for the robot, was captivated by the well-known sculptor, painter, and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. He theorized what he called the “automatic Cavaliere” which is a life-sized robot that could move its limbs by programming the gears and different mechanisms inside. This was discovered in his journals around the year 1950 and a modern recreation of his invention along with the inner mechanisms is now on display in Berlin, Germany.
In 1940, a science fiction writer by the name of Isaac Asimov wrote in one of his works the three base rules for a robot. The first law is “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The second law is “A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.” The third law is “A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.” This was the original thought of creating a machine that worked and thought for itself.
The Dartmouth Workshop, organized in 1956 by John Mcarthy, was an eight-week conference where scientists basically brainstormed and coined the term artificial intelligence for the reason that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence” could be manmade or simulated.
One of the most well-known pieces of artificial intelligence is in this room as we speak. Apple’s very own virtual assistant, Siri, was invented in 2011 and took the world by storm. The thought of asking a phone to do a task for you and have that task completed with almost no effort was a miracle at the time. We have come a long way from having our phones check the weather or FaceTime our friends just by speaking a sentence. There are a lot of innovations of AI present in today’s society other than Siri and little robot vacuum cleaners.
One of the more prominent AI’s used in the everyday world is google maps. You put in a destination and the system’s AI takes your location and your destination to find the quickest route for travel. It factors in current roadblocks and detours, traffic jams, wrecks, and roadwork to spit out the route, miles, and time that it takes to get there. This type of system also is used primarily with other examples such as apple maps. Uber and Lyft use AI like this but they also take it up another notch by factoring in amounts that it will charge for travel and sending the transport to your current location.
Another example is Amazon’s own competitor with Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa. Not only can Alexa do everything that Siri can do, but it can also do things such as control your smart home, order things online, schedule appointments, make reservations, control your music playlists, and much more.
Two of the most used social media apps in the world, Instagram and Snapchat, are also perfectly relevant examples of AI in everyday use. Instagram uses the process of machine learning, which is using AI to identify patterns and make assumptions based on those patterns to take words and slang such as okay and replace it with a thumbs-up emoji or take lol and replace it with a laughing emoji. Snapchat released its first filters in 2015. These filters use AI to track your facial movement and head tilt to add the effects of the filter and adjust it accordingly. Not only does it just use AI for filters, it uses the GPS technology that I mentioned earlier with its SnapMap feature. It takes your location and your last know activity and broadcasts it to all of your friends, and vice versa with their location and activity being broadcast to you.
Last but not least everyday use of artificial intelligence is medical robots. They were created to reduce human error to the lowest possible margin (given they were programmed and built correctly) by being remotely controlled by a surgeon or completely automated if the system has adequate machine learning from prior surgeries. This medical advancement has brought the surgery failure rates down to 0.38 percent for its main procedures which are laparoscopic surgeries. This machinery in the future could bear the possibility to be more precise than the most-skilled surgeon’s hands, but that’s not the only possible capability for AI. Just imagine the possibilities that make our minds race and wonder what the future could hold.
Imagine having a personal robot to handle all of your daily tasks for you. Something along the lines of C-3PO from Star Wars. A humanoid to fix your food, clean the house, fold laundry, make beverages, and even keep up conversations. Honda has released a product called ASIMO for the cool price of $2,500,000 which is capable of basic human tasks, but nowhere near something from The Jetsons yet. With the advances in technology, there is no doubt it will be here before long.
What about imagining a microscopic, self-diagnosing nanobot to inject into your bloodstream? The bot would analyze the blood in your system, make a diagnosis, and find the bad cells and diseases by itself and adapt accordingly to neutralize the problem.
Maybe you could even imagine an AI-controlled satellite defense system for missiles instead of standard missile defense systems. Imagine a computerized brain detecting, tracking, and stopping missiles without human interaction before they ever get near the United States. With recent technological and weapon advancements, this is definitely a possibility for the future of mankind.
We have touched on how artificial intelligence first came to be, we have talked about what our parents dreamed about as kids is now at our fingertips for our disposal, and we have talked about how what we dream could be possible will soon be at our children’s fingertips.
Artificial Intelligence is here to stay and the world is racing to uncover its next big innovation. We can’t even begin to comprehend the limits of AI nor predict the road of its future. We can only imagine and brainstorm what the future holds for us.
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