The progress of artificial intelligence

The way artificial intelligence is being glorified might make you think it is a unique technological phenomenon that is taking its very first steps. The fact is, artificial intelligence or machine learning emerged several decades ago. John Launchbury, a well-known tech visionary, has aptly described the development of artificial intelligence using three waves that are not stages of development where certain milestones were reached but sections along a path of progress.

The first wave, Handcrafted Knowledge, began in the 1980s when “specialist systems” were used to help people solve certain challenges. These systems were able to sift through large masses of data using decision trees to identify solutions to a limited number of carefully specified questions. A great example of a successful 1980s solution with logic that AI solutions still to an extent use is distribution optimisation. It is important to remember, however, that the systems of this wave had no capacity to learn.

The current era is the wave of Statistical Learning, and machine learning is its core. This era emerged in the 1990s but currently we are experiencing a revolution in machine learning. Hadoop and Big Data dramatically expanded the potential of machine learning. Storage and processing of immense structured and non-structured masses of data is now commonplace. Machine learning has reached new heights, including understanding customer behaviour on the level of the individual across channels and various IoT applications, which have also become commonplace. New technologies such as natural language processing, use of images and robotics are opening unlimited potential.

But what next? We are moving towards copying the operating models of the human brain towards even more widely to artificial intelligence. The goal is to increase the cognitive capacity of artificial intelligence so that it can be applied in new sectors that require demanding deduction and explanation. This is the Contextual Adaptation wave. We are on the threshold of this wave, taking our first steps towards an unknown but very fascinating future, reaching to the stars. Enjoy your travels!