ARTICLE: AN INTRODUCTION TO ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Don’t know where to start with Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

In this series of articles we’ll cover everything you need to get a non-technical understanding of AI and how you should apply it to your business.  

the article includes:

• Why AI is getting so much attention right now

• What it really is, the types that exist and what you need to know about how it works

 

WHY IS AI IN THE SPOTLIGHT?

Artificial intelligence isn’t a new concept. You are likely already interacting with some form of AI in your everyday life, for example:

1. Tailored product or music recommendations on popular e-commerce and music platforms

2. Lane assist technology in cars that is sensing your environment and making recommendations or taking action based on that information

3. Fraud detection in financial transactions

4. Speech analytics in your contact centre or automated invoice matching in your accounting software

Lifelike responses from Large Language Models like ChatGPT have raised the possibility that AI could replace the generalised intelligence of a human.

In truth that general intelligence is still some way off, and the current tools can only perform specific tasks that they have been trained on. For example, however compelling today’s large language models are, they still make fairly basic errors

But over the last couple of years AI has become much more prominent because:

1. Software and tools have become increasingly more available

2. The cost of infrastructure has reduced

3. The advent of large language models which have grabbed headlines

WHAT IS AI?

The term ‘AI’ is used to describe a wide range of quite different technologies, but the important thing they have in common is that all of them are seeking to carry out tasks that would traditionally have required human intelligence. Tasks like analysing different sorts of inputs, learning from them, solving complex problems, making predictions or decisions, and even making new content based on existing information. 

The diagram below summarises the principle fields of AI.

Fields of AI

Types of AI

There are lots of ways to classify AI, and just to confuse things, many of the labels get used more or less interchangeably. One of the most useful distinctions right now is between Generative and Predictive AI.

Generative AI

Creates new content by identifying patterns in its training data and applying those patterns to new prompts. This is the area that has generated the most interest with the public recently due to tools like Gemini from Google and Bing backed by Open AI.

Predictive AI

Predicts future outcomes and trends by analysing existing data. Depending on the system this data may be labelled by humans or completely unstructured. This enables it to make recommendations and / or automated decisions. Most business-focussed AI is currently Predictive and, whilst it may be less ‘sexy’, in the short term it is likely to have equal or greater application for most businesses than purely Generative AI.

types of AI

 

Think of AI as an umbrella term. Underneath it, there are different descriptions that tackle specific elements.

TYPES OF AI

BUT WHAT IS IT?

Is AI software or hardware? And how does it learn?

AI systems are software based on mathematical models, but these days they use dedicated hardware to accelerate their performance. The software translates the mathematical model into code that can process data and learn.

How does a computer learn? 

By adjusting the weights on a set of parameters over and over again to minimise the difference between its outputs and the desired outcomes. The model through a process of repetition ‘learns’ until it generates the right outcome based on feedback provided by humans. Over time the model becomes more independent and requires less human input.

So where does hardware come in?

AI models require huge amounts of processing power and huge amounts of data for learning. The advent of cloud computing coupled with the vast data source that is the internet has enabled these resource hungry software processes to become accessible to everybody.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. In part two, we’ll delve deeper into the different ways you can leverage AI to give your business a strategic edge. Stay tuned!

Can’t wait? Talk to one of the team about where to start, contact Simonkeay@cross8.co.uk or garytimlin@cross8.co.uk