About
What we do
INSIGHTS
open positionsblog

What is Artificial Intelligence and why it is useful for businesses

Let's find out together what are the practical applications and future of this revolutionary technology.
In the modern world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a fundamental component of our daily lives. In this article, we will find out what AI is and how it works, what it has to do with Machine Learning, what are its practical applications, and what is the future of this technology.
Pillar Graphic

What is Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence(AI) is a branch of computer science concerned with creating systems that can learn, reason and adapt autonomously. These systems are designed to perform tasks that require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognizing images, and solving complex problems. AI is a field of research that has gone through several historical phases, each characterized by significant advances and new challenges.
Its evolution has been driven by key figures who have helped develop new learning techniques and create innovative applications in different fields. Today, AI has a significant impact on society and the economy, and its future will be determined by our ability to address the ethical and social challenges it poses.

How AI was born

The history of AI began in the 1950s, when British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing proposed the famous Turing Test, an experiment to determine whether a machine could exhibit intelligence indistinguishable from human intelligence. The test helped spur interest in the creation of intelligent machines and led to the emergence of AI as a field of research.
In the early years of AI development, many researchers were optimistic about the potential of this technology and believed that it would be possible to create intelligent machines in a relatively short period of time. In 1956, U.S. mathematician and computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term "Artificial Intelligence" during the famous Dartmouth Conference, an event that brought together some of the greatest experts in the field and is considered the starting point of modern AI.
Between the 1950s and 1960s, AI experienced a phase of rapid growth and development, thanks to advances in neural networks and machine learning. Among the key figures of this period were Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert, who founded the MIT AI Lab, a research center dedicated to AI that is still one of the most prestigious in the world today.
Pillar timeline ENG
The first successful applications of AI involved logical problem solving and symbolic manipulation. An emblematic example is the Logic Theorist program, developed by Allen Newell, Herbert A. Simon and Cliff Shaw in 1955, which was able to prove mathematical theorems independently, using a primitive form of symbolic reasoning.
However, beginning in the 1970s, AI went through a period of crisis and stagnation, known as the "AI winter." During this period, technological progress slowed down and many research projects were abandoned due to lack of funding and failure to achieve their goals.

The renaissance of AI occurred in the 1990s, thanks to new learning techniques, such as multilayer neural networks and deep learning algorithms, which enabled machines to learn effectively and perform complex tasks. Among the prominent researchers of this period were Geoffrey Hinton, YannLeCun and Yoshua Bengio, the so-called "fathers of Deep Learning." These scholars contributed to the development of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and recurrent neural networks (RNNs), which revolutionized image recognition and natural language understanding.

Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, AI continued to evolve rapidly, thanks to advances in computing power and the availability of massive amounts of data. This enabled the development of new learning techniques, such as Reinforcement Learning, which led to major successes, such as the victory of DeepMind's AlphaGo program over the world champion Go, an achievement that shocked the scientific community and demonstrated the potential of AI in solving extremely complex problems.
Today, AI is an integral part of many technologies we use on a daily basis, such as search engines, virtual assistants (e.g., Siri and Alexa), and recommendation platforms (such as Netflix and Amazon). In addition, AI is finding applications in areas such as medicine, finance, industry, and transportation, with an increasing impact on society and the economy.

However, the evolution of AI also poses ethical and societal challenges that require open debate and deep reflection. Among the main concerns are privacy protection, algorithmic discrimination, and job losses due to automation. The future of AI involves a great deal of attention to these issues-included in what is known as Explainable Artificial Intelligence-and will depend on our ability to address these challenges and ensure sustainable and responsible development of the technology.

Artificial intelligence, an added value for business process automation

Business process automation is crucial to companies' competitiveness. Here's how AI can help it.
Our insight

Automazione e Intelligenza Artificiale, i vantaggi per le aziende

L'automazione dei processi aziendali è cruciale per la competitività delle aziende. Ecco come l’IA può aiutarla.
Approfondimento
Pillar Scheme

Machine Learning: an approach to AI

Machine Learning is a powerful technique and branch of AI that has revolutionized the way computers learn and adapt to data. Through its various approaches, such as supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning, Machine Learning has found applications in a variety of fields, from medicine to marketing, from cybersecurity to robotics.
Pillar Graphic

There are three main types of Machine Learning:

  1. Supervised learning: the system is trained on a set of labeled data, learning to predict labels for new data. This type of learning is commonly used for classification and regression. Some examples of specific applications include:
    • Facial recognition: identifying people based on their facial features.
    • Medical diagnostics: predicting the presence of diseases based on examinations and patient data.
    • Spam filters: identifying unwanted emails based on specific characteristics.

  2. Unsupervised learning: the system tries to discover hidden patterns or structures in the data without predefined labels. This approach is often used for clustering and dimensionality reduction of data. Some examples of specific applications are:
    • Market segmentation: identification of consumer groups with similar characteristics to tailor marketing strategies.
    • Social network analysis: identification of communities within social networks based on the structure of connections between users.
    • Anomaly detection: detection of unusual or suspicious behavior in complex systems such as cybersecurity or predictive maintenance.

  3. Reinforcement learning: the system learns through interaction with the environment, receiving positive or negative feedback. In this case, the goal is to find the optimal strategy to maximize reward in the long term. Some specific applications of this type of learning include:
    • Robotics: training robots to perform complex tasks, such as controlling a robotic arm or navigating unfamiliar environments.
    • Games: training intelligent agents to play games such as chess, Go, and video games.
    • Energy systems optimization: adjusting energy use and distribution in power grids to maximize energy efficiency.

Practical applications of AI

Artificial intelligence has revolutionized many areas, improving performance and optimizing processes in previously unimaginable ways. Listed below are some of the areas most influenced by AI, with more extensive descriptions and a literature reference for further study:

  • Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are some examples of virtual assistants that use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand and answer users' questions effectively and naturally. NLP has enabled more intuitive interaction between users and devices, making it easier to access information and manage daily tasks (Hirschberg & Manning, 2015).

  • Medicine: AI has transformed the healthcare industry through early diagnosis of diseases, personalization of therapies, and discovery of new drugs. For example, deep learning algorithms have been used to detect abnormalities in medical images, such as breast cancer and melanoma, with an accuracy comparable to that of human experts (Esteva et al., 2017).

  • Transportation: AI has contributed to the introduction of autonomous vehicles and intelligent traffic management systems. These technologies have reduced traffic accidents and improved energy efficiency, as well as reduced travel time and air pollution. A successful example in this field is Google's self-driving car project, Waymo (Bishop, 2018).

  • Industry: The use of AI-based robots and automation systems has enabled increased productivity and reduced operating costs in assembly lines and manufacturing processes. Artificial intelligence has also enabled better predictive maintenance and the creation of more resilient supply chains (Lu et al., 2017).

  • Finance: AI-based trading and predictive analytics algorithms have been used to improve investment decisions and risk management. AI can analyze large amounts of historical and real-time data to identify trends and investment opportunities, providing a competitive advantage over traditional methods (Dixon et al., 2020).

The future of AI

The future of AI is full of promise. As technology continues to advance, new opportunities are emerging in areas such as energy, education and security. However, it is important to address ethical concerns related to AI, such as privacy, labor, and equity. Let's try to understand in what direction artificial intelligence will evolve, what challenges it will face, including socially, and how.

Evolution of AI technology

Recent innovations in artificial intelligence have led to significant advances in the processing capacity and performance of AI systems. Key innovations such as Deep Learning, Reinforcement Learning and Transfer Learning have revolutionized the field of AI and paved the way for a new era of applications and technological advances. In this context, future developments are expected to focus on natural language understanding, computer vision, and content generation.

  • Natural Language Understanding (NLP): NLP is a rapidly evolving field that aims to improve communication between machines and humans. With the advent of advanced language models such as OpenAI's GPT-3, advances in NLP are expected to lead to more natural and sophisticated interactions between users and AI systems. In addition, NLP will have a major impact on content generation, sentiment analysis, and machine translation applications.
  • Computer vision: Computer vision is another rapidly growing field, with significant advances in the ability of machines to recognize and interpret images and videos. Thanks to Deep Learning and techniques such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs), major advances are being made in image segmentation, object recognition, and the development of artificial intelligence systems that can "see" the world like humans. This progress could lead to a wide range of applications, from autonomous driving to AI-assisted medical diagnosis.
  • Content Generation: Content generation via AI is gaining more and more ground, with the creation of high-quality text, images, video and audio through the use of advanced algorithms. For example, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) have been used to generate realistic images and videos, opening up new opportunities in the entertainment and advertising industries.

Some of the most promising public and private research centers in the field of AI include:

  • OpenAI: Founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and other leading entrepreneurs, OpenAI is dedicated to the research and development of advanced and secure artificial intelligence, with the goal of ensuring that the benefits of AI are shared by all of humanity.

  • DeepMind: Acquired by Google in 2014, DeepMind is known for developing Reinforcement Learning algorithms such as AlphaGo and AlphaZero, which have defeated world champions in complex games such as Go and chess.

Social and ethical impacts of AI

As we have seen, artificial intelligence has led to significant advances in various fields, but it is critical to ensure that its use is responsible and the benefits are shared equitably. Key ethical and social issues include inclusion, overcoming ethical bias, and data protection.

  1. Inclusion: Reducing the digital divide and providing equitable access to AI technologies are crucial to ensuring that everyone can benefit from advances in AI. This involves improving training, education, and access to digital infrastructure, especially in disadvantaged and developing communities. In addition, it is important to ensure that people with disabilities can benefit from AI technologies, for example, through the development of assistive devices and accessible interfaces.
  2. Ethical Bias: AI algorithms can incorporate and perpetuate biases and discrimination present in the data they are trained on, leading to unfair outcomes and inequalities. To address this problem, it is necessary to promote research and development of unbiased and responsible algorithms that take into account ethical implications. In addition, it is essential to encourage diversity and inclusion among AI researchers and developers to ensure that diverse perspectives are represented in the development of these technologies.
  3. Data protection: The collection and analysis of massive amounts of personal data by companies and organizations using AI raises concerns about data privacy and security. It is critical to establish and enforce data protection standards and privacy regulations that ensure that users have control over their data and that the organizations that manage it are accountable.

Other considerations include the impact of AI on the labor market and the skills required AI workers. Automation and AI may cause the disappearance of some jobs and the creation of new job opportunities, requiring retraining of skills and adaptation of educational and vocational training systems.

In summary, addressing the social and ethical impacts of AI requires a holistic approach that promotes inclusion, combats ethical bias, and ensures data protection, as well as preparing the workforce for emerging challenges and opportunities.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are transforming our world in surprising and unpredictable ways. Through their powerful learning and adaptive capabilities, these systems are changing the way we work, communicate and solve complex problems. As we continue to explore and harness the potential of these technologies, it is essential that we do so in a way that is responsible and mindful of the ethical and societal challenges that lie ahead.

Sources

  • Crawford, K., & Calo, R. (2016). There is a blind spot in AI research. Nature, 538(7625), 311-313.
  • O'Neil, C. (2016). Weapons of math destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. Broadway Books

Bibliographic references:

  • Bishop, R. (2018). Autonomous vehicles and the law: Technology, algorithms, and ethics. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Dixon, M., Klabjan, D., & Siolas, G. (2020). Artificial intelligence in finance. Academic Press.
  • Esteva, A., Kuprel, B., Novoa, R. A., Ko, J., Swetter, S. M., Blau, H. M., & Thrun, S. (2017). Dermatologist-level classification of skin cancer with deep neural networks. Nature,
Index
Subscribe to the newsletter
Iscriviti alla newsletter

Get in touch with us

logo-frontiere
LinkedinInstagramYoutubeFacebookTwitter
Privacy policy
Copyright 2024 Frontiere
FRONTIERE Srl
Headquarters in Via Oslavia, 6 - 00195 Rome, RM | C.F. and VAT 17464921000
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram