When you think “Artificial Intelligence” — what comes to mind? Do you think of Ex Machina human-like robots taking over the world? Or maybe you envision having your own butler like Tony Stark’s Jarvis in The Avengers. In movies, artificial intelligence is depicted as being overly futuristic. In reality, AI has already had a profound impact on everyday life. In the coming years we can expect to see this reach grow immensely.

But what is artificial intelligence?

We’re giving you the scoop on artificial intelligence: What is it? How does it work? And how can you get in on the action?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is a broad field of computer science that aims to create machines that can take in data, reason, react, learn and act like humans. Techopedia describes AI as machines that have traits such as, “knowledge, reasoning, problem solving, perception, learning, planning, [and] ability to manipulate and move objects.” As engineers continuously work towards solving these questions, the definition of artificial intelligence continues to evolve.

The current challenge for engineers is tackling each of these realms that make a machine more like a human. One of the well-studied subsets of artificial intelligence is machine learning. Machine learning is a method for creating algorithms that can detect and learn patterns, then make future predictions based on those patterns.

Machine learning is just one of the many ways a machine could become humanlike. It sounds completely futuristic, but the possible usage is enormous and pervasive in everyday life. Ever wondered how your credit card company detects fraudulent charges on your account? Or how ads on Facebook are targeted towards the product you just searched on Amazon? Or even how Siri possibly understands what you’re shouting into your iPhone? Machine learning has a hand in all of those situations. It’s also how websites suggest products that are “recommended for you”. It’s how self-driving cars like the Tesla’s Autopilot gathers data and reacts to current road conditions.

We go in depth on the technology behind Machine Learning on our blog.

While machine learning covers some aspects of learning and problem solving, there is still much ground to cover. Engineers are now determining how they can address the other necessary traits. While machine learning deals with data based on patterns and data, the other traits are less black and white. How will a machine determine an output based on ethics and reasoning? How will a machine perceive intentions, tone, and meaning behind commands?

These are all yet to be seen, and will be a major challenge for engineers, tech leaders, and companies.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Just how pervasive will artificial intelligence become? To put it simply, AI could be used everywhere- across industries like technology, medicine, transportation, finance. It has the possibility to completely revolutionize the workplace in the coming years. Some experts estimate over 6% of jobs to be replaced by AI by 2021. In fact, artificial intelligence is so prevalent at this point in time that the IDC estimates that by 2020 AI will be a $40 billion industry.

Here are some ways that you can get involved in artificial intelligence.

  • Get a job in artificial intelligence

Many software developers are making the switch to Machine Learning, however, AI is not just for technical workers. Whether you have a technical background or not, you will want to hop on the artificial intelligence train. Functional AI doesn’t just require technical skills, in fact, AI companies are recruiting employees of all skill sets. Graphic designers, marketing, quality assurance, analytics, user interface and user experience roles can all easily transition into artificial intelligence companies.

  • Invest in artificial intelligence

Do you want to have some stock in the game? Get involved in AI by investing in companies that are investing in AI. Do some research on the companies that interest you most to determine which you should throw your chips in with. You can start by checking out some large companies that have invested in AI to date, like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft. In 2016 alone, investments have reached over $2.4 billion in artificial intelligence. This is a huge jump, up from $700 million in 2013!

  • Back some Kickstarter campaigns

If you’re not quite ready to invest in stock, consider backing some cool Kickstarter campaigns. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that allows you to get involved with products that haven’t even hit the market yet. Not only will you be able to see some crazy innovative ideas, but you can often even be one of the first to receive a prototype by donating. In 2012, VR headset Oculus Rift received 2.5 million dollars in funding through Kickstarter. In 2014, Google acquired them for two billion dollars. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could be involved from the beginning of an amazing product?

It will be interesting to see where artificial intelligence goes as engineers work to address additional humanlike qualities. You don’t have to be a bystander with this cutting-edge technology, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. What are some ways that you got involved with artificial intelligence? What do you predict for the future of AI? Write below in the comments.

If you’re looking for an engineering role in the Silicon Valley, apply online at ERG’s job board.


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