What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in basic terms is making a machine seem to have human intelligence, as you might know that artificial intelligence is already everywhere, the technology is widely used in different areas and industries that are quite noticeable such as self-driving cars, cameras, health care, social media and mobile devices.

As AI is getting increasingly sophisticated at doing what humans do, but more efficiently, more quickly and at a lower cost, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to put this technology to work to improve their productivity, profitability and business results.

What is Autonomous driving?

Autonomous driving is having a car that use sensory data of the surrounding environment to navigate and guide itself without human drivers as computers take over the art of driving, they are also known as self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles. This technology is still in development by many automotive companies for example Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, is one of the biggest investors in autonomous vehicle technology R&D. The company has filed over 338 patents for the technology between 2010 and July 2017.

There are five levels of autonomous driving which are:

1.   Driver Assistance

2.   Partly Automated Driving

3.   Highly Automated Driving

4.   Fully Automated Driving

5.   Full Automation (No driver!)

Some of these automations have been implemented as extra functions a car can have in terms of driver assistance while driving. companies such as Tesla, Mercedes, Audi and BMW have the first 3 levels available for the public to purchase as additional functions to their vehicles.

What are Chatbots?

Bots are generally any software that preform automated tasks, in the same context are conversational bots they are software that can have a conversation with a human. For example, a user could ask the bot a question and the bot could respond appropriately.

The most intuitive definition is that a bot is software that can have a conversation with a human. For example, a user could ask the bot a question or give it an instruction and the bot could respond or perform an action as appropriate.

Chatbots work within chat platforms, each platform has its own features, there are many chat platforms available such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Telegram, Slack, Kik or SMS.

For example, SMS and email bots can only show text and attach multi-media widgets in some cases. A Facebook Messenger, Kik or Telegram bots can interact with the user using a variety of graphical widgets, as well as give the user access to web views, i.e. basically allowing unlimited flexibility in terms of the user interface that can be offered to the user, this will be determined by the developers to suit the use cases and their needs.

As chatbots are becoming more and more integrated on the commercial level it has become the future of customer service, there are three different types of chatbots:

Scripted: These chatbot behaviours are determined by rules where they only follow programmed and fixed paths, this will mainly be due to the user’s interaction step by step by selecting from set options to determine how the next step in the conversation will occur. How the options are presented to the user at each step in the conversation, will depend on the features of the chat platform and how the bot is designed and programmed, i.e. whether the user needs a text, voice or touch response.

Intelligent: These chatbots are built with artificial intelligence techniques. It allows them to be more flexible in terms of the user input they can accept. They can accept different forms of inputs mainly text or voice statements however, they are not limited. It allows them to improve the more that they are used. On the other hand, it should be noted that although AI works very well in very limited knowledge domains or for one off instructions, the actual intelligence of the bot is limited. Therefore, it is extremely hard to get a bot to “understand” context or ambiguity or to have a useful memory that influences the conversation however, in recent years google has been working on this challenge for their virtual personal assistant called Google assistant.

Application: Both scripted and intelligent chatbots can have graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Bots can be interacted with using a graphical user interface therefore, this is an important concept for developers. i.e. If a user can do the job, they need to do more efficiently via a graphical interface then the bot needs to show a graphical interface at that point in the conversation.

Legal, Social and Ethical implications surrounding AI

Technology has been developing at the most rapid rate since the Industrial Revolution, quicker than the law can pace. Therefore, there are many issues surrounding AI from legal, social and ethical sides, currently we have more questions than answers, here are the top issues facing AI starting with:


1.   Governance: Nationally and internationally a number of efforts are underway to develop governance frameworks for AI and robotics.

2.   Intellectual property (IP) & ownership:Who owns the millions of necessary data gathered from individuals used to develop and train the AI tools. What legal and ethical obligations are owed to the users whose data are used to create these tools?

3.   Liability: In the case of self-driving cars and health care machines/products, if a car got into an accident and was in self drive mode, who is liable the driver or the car? The main argument would be the car and the insurance company will have to pay for the damages. Similarly, would be in the medical profession as more clinical decisions are in the hand of machine-based algorithms. As a result, this is likely to mean a gradual shifting from professional liability to product liability holding the manufacturer of the AI tool responsible for harm caused by a medical decision.

4.   Certification: A human must attain a license or certification to operate certain machines in the health care and license to drive a car. The big question is how do AI tools become certified to preform the same either medical tasks such as X-Ray or driving? For example, IBM has reported that Watson which is a super computer with the help of AI, learning and deep learning was ready to take the Radiology Boards. This issue of how we certify AI tools must strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and growth in this industry while protecting patients from ineffective and inconsistent diagnostic solutions.

5.   Bias: Artificial intelligence is capable of a speed and capacity of processing that is far beyond humans, it cannot always be trusted to be fair and neutral. Alphabet the parent company of Google are one of the leaders when it comes to artificial intelligence, as AI is being used to identify people, objects and scenes in their Google photos service and camera algorithms on their smartphone side of software advancement. However, it cannot always be right, some things can go wrong such as when the camera mises the mark of racial sensitivity or when a software is being used to predict future criminals shows bias against black people. We should note that these AI systems are created by humans, who can be biased and judgemental.

Ethical & Social

1.   Data privacy & Cybersecurity: One of the key concerns for a connected system is data security. The more powerful a technology becomes, the more can it be used for immoral reasons as well as good. This does not only apply to robots to replace human soldiers, autonomous weapons but also to AI systems that can cause catastrophic damages if used maliciously. Because in the 21th century these fights will not only be fought on the battleground, cybersecurity becomes even more important. Nevertheless, we are dealing with systems that are faster and more capable than us by orders of magnitude.

2.   Unemployment: In recent years there has been an increased panic due to the increase of AI and other technologies taking a huge leap into the labour workforce. For example, the trucking business in the United States employs millions however, Elon Musk promised that Tesla is bringing self-driving trucks and they will be widely available in the next decade or so. In contrast, if we look at the lower risk of accidents then self-driving trucks seem like an ethical choice. This is where we come to the big question of how we are going to spend our time as most people still rely on selling their time to have enough income to sustain themselves and support their families.

3.   Inequality: The economic system in every country is based using the hourly wage system for compensation for the contribution to the economy, the majority of companies are still dependent on this hourly work wage system. On the other hand, when using AI companies can harshly cut down on relying on the human workforce, meaning that all the revenues and profits will go to fewer people being the ones who have ownership in AI-driven companies making all the money. There is already a spreading wealth gap, where start-up founders take home a large portion of the economic overflow they create. My question is how do we structure a fair post-labour economy?

4.   Humanity: AI bots are advancing and becoming better and better at modelling human conversation and relationships. A bot called Eugene Goostman won the Turing Challenge for the first time in 2015, where it fooled more than half of the human raters into thinking they had been talking to a human being. Furthermore, Google assistant recently had a new feature where it can answer phone calls and book appointments in restaurants and doctors. This and other methods are used to make numerous video and mobile games become addictive, Tech addiction is the new frontier of human dependency as we have seen recently young children and Fortnite.

5.   Transparency: A growing challenge that has been discussed by many people and experts is the transparency of functions. It should be clear to users in general terms to know what exactly what these systems can do, and it cannot do as well as why it is carrying out a task at a particular place or time, what data it is collecting for that purpose and whether this is being shared. The system needs to be able to give an account of itself in everyday terms that users understand and to respond promptly to requests to change behaviour.

6.   Social attachment: Another growing concern is people over time may develop emotional bonds with certain technologies as they already do with devices such as tablets, mobile phones and cars.

Where is AI being used?

Well, AI is being utilized everywhere it can be used from automating production machines such as Tesla factory and robots to internet of things (IOT) such as amazon echo. Furthermore, as Google has around 500 million monthly active users and over 2 trillion Google searches per day in 2018 the use of machine learning algorithms to rank pages is a must for the company, enhancing and developing new ways to improve their services as new technologies emerge.

Virtual Personal Assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google assistant and Bixby use natural language processing algorithms to understand what is being said. There are some essential qualities needed for these Virtual assistants to function appropriately such as:

o  Reliability

o  Good communication skills

o  Time-management

o  Resourcefulness

o  Understanding

o  Accessibility

o  Working alone

Industries influencing AI development

Automobile: The dream of having a driverless car has begun in the 1970s, however, it has turned into reality in recent years due to development of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, GPS and high processing power. Auto giants such as Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW are claiming to bring their futuristic autonomous vehicles to the showrooms within the next four years. However, Tesla has shown more development and progress towards autonomous driving and how frequent they update their systems. Nevertheless, companies such as Google, Tesla, Mercedes Benz and Ford are investing billions into building semi and fully autonomous vehicles. Due to AI hardware, software and services, the automotive industry revenues will rise from $404 million to $14 billion within the next 5 years.

Manufacturing:  AI is playing a vital role in improving the manufacturing industry from enterprise software, where a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer had 650 human workers and after implementing AI and recent AI automation, the factory is being run by 60 robotic arms and 60 workers working around the clock leading to over 250% increase in productivity and 85% drop in defects, this shows how AI can improve productivity and minimise business loss. Furthermore, Google has acquired 8 robotics companies within six months making it not only develop its own software but hardware too, making more advanced robots over a long period of time. In addition, countries have been investing in robots, Japan for instance is investing a lot of money to build around 30 million robots to climb the world ladder to be number one in manufacturing again.

Finance: Due to the rapid growth of algorithmic trading AI automation has proven its success. Machine learning is helping major banks in cutting down the overall time spent on repetitive tasks such as interpreting commercial loan agreements, now these tasks take the matter of seconds to achieve the same result it would have taken the human force. There are many ways AI has transformed the finance industry here are the top five that I feel are the most important: ­­­­­

o  Risk assessment

o  Trading

o  Financial Advisory Services

o  Fraud Detection & Management

o  Managing finance

Healthcare: There has been an increase in the health care industry by big digital technology companies like Google, Apple, IBM and Microsoft. Their main goal is to provide better and faster health care by mining medical records. Due to some legal and ethical issues rising around the medical field using AI, the technology has been more on empowering doctors rather than replacing them.

For instance, IBM Watson was the first super computer that was ready to take the Radiology Boards. However, they are trying to get hold of more and more healthcare related data as it has been recently acquiring 4 healthcare companies and partnered with diabetes and insulin companies gathering around 300 million records including clinical records, claims and operational data. With the rate of the advancements in smart machines the health care industry is expected to be the fastest growing industry in data generation.


Lastly, I believe that AI still has a long way to go as there are an alarming amount of legal, ethical and social issues that need to be addressed by the tech giants who are investing millions into research and development programs. There should be set rules and aspects where AI cannot go into such as advanced weaponizing especially in the arms industry, having autonomous weapons can be equally hazardous as a nuclear weapon.

The right step has already been taken by AI and robotics leaders including Elon Musk founder of Tesla and SpaceX as well as Mustafa Suleyman co-founder of Google Deepmind. A petition has been signed by the founders of 116 AI and robotics companies having 26 countries in total, it was to the United Nations calling a ban on lethal autonomous weapons as they can be hacked anytime in the future and cannot be controlled in anyway as well as the fear of it being in the wrong hands such as terrorist groups which can use it against innocent people.

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