Artificial Intelligence aka AI has been a buzzword for more than a decade and has come a long way since Steven Spielberg’s namesake rendition was released in 2001. Many of us are familiar with everyday AI applications such as voice assistants like Alexa, image recognition for face unlock in mobile phones and even visuals creation by Netflix. However, there is much, much more to this popular form of technology when you consider its use in manufacturing, production, finance, marketing and healthcare. And AI is big business. Statista predicts that the global AI market could grow by up to 54% every year. This week we take a look at exactly what Artificial Intelligence is, how it is applied in industry and our daily lives and what the pros and cons of AI are.


Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, particularly computers. Put simply, AI is software that enables a computer to think and learn on its own and to do jobs that are normally earmarked for humans. It focuses on three cognitive abilities – learning, reasoning and self-correction. Based on capabilities, there are three types of Artificial Intelligence:

  • Weak AI – a program that does one task at a time and the most common form that we use
  • Strong AI – software that can understand and learn complex human intellectual tasks
  • Super AI – a program that performs better than any human

Super AI, or superintelligence, is still a concept in which hypothetical software has superior intelligence even compared to the brightest and most gifted minds on the planet.


In 1970, American computer scientist Marvin Minsky said:

“From three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being.”

Minsky’s optimistic prediction was wrong then and remains in the balance. Going back to 1949, computers were incapable of mimicking human intelligence and could only execute but not store commands. In other words, computers could be told what to do but couldn’t remember what they did. Then things began to move forward in leaps and bounds and by 1974 AI had flourished. Computers were faster, could store more data and cost a lot less. In the 1980s, Artificial Intelligence development accelerated through the expansion of algorithms and massive investment. Deep learning meant that computers could learn from experience and Edward Feigenbaum introduced industry-based expert systems which copied the decision-making process of a human expert. In this decade, the Japanese government invested $400 million in AI as part of its Fifth Generation Computer Project (FGCP). 1997 was a landmark year for AI, with IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ program beating the reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov. The same year, speech recognition software was invented and a robot was created that could recognise and display emotions. We now live in the big data age. While AI algorithms may not have significantly improved, big data and massive computing power simply allow Artificial Intelligence to learn through brute force.


Besides those already mentioned, there is currently a multitude of uses for Artificial Intelligence. These include manufacturing robots, self-driving cars, automated financial investing, social media monitoring and marketing chatbots. Smart assistants have a pivotal role in AI with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby being frontrunners. Artificial Intelligence is also proving to be a game-changer in healthcare addressing sky-high medical costs and inefficient processes. Virtual assistants reduce unnecessary GP and hospital visits, giving nurses and doctors 20% more time to concentrate on urgent care. Using AI, pharmaceutical companies research critical life-saving medicines in a fraction of the traditional time and cost. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence in travel and transportation, don’t forget the likes of Google Maps and Waze that make our commutes so much less painful.


The use of Artificial Intelligence comes with a plethora of advantages. One of the biggest is the reduction of errors and an increase in accuracy and precision. When algorithms are programmed correctly, the chance of error can be reduced close to zero. Another plus of using AI is that AI robots can complete many jobs that would put human life at risk such as defusing bombs or space and oceanic exploration. Other AI advantages include:

  • the use of digital assistants eliminating the need for human personnel
  • driving innovation and inventions, particularly in the medical field
  • making unbiased decisions as AI is devoid of emotions, highly practical and rational in its approach
  • being able to complete boring and repetitive tasks that most people hate
  • the use of apps to promote efficiency


Unfortunately, when it comes to AI, not everything is as good as it seems. One of the main disadvantages of creating a machine that is able to simulate human intelligence can be very expensive. Additional costs involve deploying the latest hardware and software so that the AI is always up to date. Another downside is that, at the moment, AI machines can’t think outside the box and are devoid of creativity. Other disadvantages are:

  • robots often displace occupations and increase unemployment
  • AI could make our brains lazy as we don’t have to memorise things or solve puzzles when doing repetitive tasks – this is potentially problematic for future generations
  • AI singularity, the concept that AI will eventually wipe out humanity, also raises concerns about ethics and morality
  • robots lack the emotions that effectively connect humans when working in teams
  • AI cannot improve itself – if improvements are required, the software must be recoded to accommodate these


When you deploy appropriate AI technology, your SME will save time and money by automating and optimising routine processes. More than that, your employees will be more productive and can make faster decisions based on outputs from cognitive technologies. I have more than 20+ years of experience in IT support for SMEs and am here to help when you are ready to transform your business using AI. Let’s get together and make your IT future-proof with AI.

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