What exactly is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and how will it affect us?

If one would check Wikipedia, A.I. is defined as “Intelligence demonstrated by machine”…adding, “The ability to learn and to problem solve.” So what will that effect be on us, ‘humans’ and how we do our jobs?

There is much talk about Artificial Intelligence in the news today: It is going to take over the world and enslave us, or create a leisure society where we will be served by robot slaves. If you ask Elon Musk, the charismatic brash CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City, his take is that if not checked, A.I. will take over the world and end human civilization as we know it. Will it force everyone from Earth to inhabit Mars as an escape of the A.I. robot apocalypse?

A guess might be that Musk’s quest for SpaceX to go to Mars is rooted in his next big goal to save civilization. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, is much more pragmatic about what A.I. can or may do and he thinks Musk is fear mongering.

What is the truth?

For now, it seems A.I. is being used to make our lives and jobs easier. We see it everywhere. Facebook, Amazon, and even grocery stores use A.I. every day. A.I. allows software and, yes, even Tesla’s robots, to anticipate ‘what ifs’ as they collect data and images. Facebook, Amazon and Google learn our shopping habits so they can present us with items that might interest us. A.I. is used to mine data, learn habitual behavior, and anticipate one’s next steps.

Self-driving cars use A.I. to analyze video images to understand what is happening on the road. A.I. will not only be able to tell the difference between a red light, yellow light and a stop sign, it will remember what happened the last time it passed the same way and compare it to see if anything changed, i.e., road construction, or a new crosswalk. It won’t need software updates because it will be updating based on its own experiences; each time improving itself as it goes through a sequence of events. Unlike humans, A.I.’s memory will improve with age.

The first generation of software took data and compared it with the existing programmed fields. If there was a match, the software showed results. It was static. A.I. allows the software to make predictive decisions and, then over time, A.I. will learn if those predictions/decisions are correct. If not, modifications will be made. If yes, A.I. will store the data as a correct assumption and continue to make predictions.

In the past, generations of document processing software had to recognize and match fields of data. A.I. has the capability to look for data and anticipate and predict what and where something belongs, each time improving its predictive scores.

So how does this chase us to Mars?

Right now it doesn’t, and perhaps, it never will. It wasn’t long ago that fear of robots taking our jobs had everyone up in arms! Tesla’s factory is full of robots, as well as hundreds of employees.

A.I. is the backbone of Facebook, Google and Amazon. Even though retailers are shutting their doors at a record pace, employment is on the rise. What was originally feared as a major cause of unemployment, and laying off employees, turns out to be just the opposite. The fact is, the workplace is hiring and can’t even get enough workers.

A.I. will certainly eliminate tedious tasks. But, it will improve analytic skills and decision making skills that humans presently make. Lower labor costs and better and faster decisions may lower costs that can be passed along to buyers. For example, in the financial industry, what used to take a bank analyst days, or weeks, to make a loan decision, now happens in seconds over the internet.

At AeroPay Express, a leader in vendor procurement, early pay, and virtual credit cards, A.I.is used to give instant feedback when businesses apply for credit lines from $100k to 10 million dollars. A.I. has eliminated certain tasks previously done by humans, but it has, also, freed up room for more skilled labor responsibilities and customer service jobs, all to better serve businesses and consumers.

Will A.I. learn too much about everyone, as Musk has said? Will it one day take all of our jobs and go on to control mankind? Hmmm… It is possible…But, then again, someone will need to stay behind here on Mother Earth to plug in the robots at night and recharge their batteries!