Artificial Intelligence

Each day the news reports of yet another invention powered by AI.

We are living in a smart world. To be “connected” we own smart phones so we can text, call, read the news, listen to music, catch up on the latest entertainment and even pay for our shopping. The functions of our smart phones grow more complex each year.

In our homes we rely on virtual assistants to stream music or effortlessly turn on the television or switch on the lights. In our gardens we can sit back whilst our smart lawn mowers do the work of cutting the grass, and when we are out on the road driving our electric cars powered by microprocessors we navigate by way of a smart device that dictates our route and warns us of oncoming roadworks and traffic jams.

“Smart” technology is now found in all areas of life, and applications of AI can be seen across all sectors of industry.

In the field of entertainment Hollywood script writers are fearful of losing their jobs to AI with the evolution of generative AI systems such as ChatGPT by OpenAI that can produce an entire play as if a person had written it themselves.

Across the healthcare sector robotic assisted surgery is now frequently used in hospitals for routine medical procedures.

The automotive industry has relied on armies of robots in car assembly lines since the 1960s.

AI has revolutionised the financial sector: our phones have banking apps so we can swiftly transfer money from our account or pay for goods at the shops without fumbling for our wallets.  

Airports across the world now deploy facial recognition software to streamline the process of border control.

And when was the last time you had to find coins to pay for parking? With numberplate recognition and sophisticated parking apps on our phones we don’t need to rely on hard cash anymore to pay to park the car.

But how did artificial intelligence get here?

AI is essentially the ability of a machine to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. It can be divided into 3 branches: machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing.

Pioneering work in the field of AI was carried out by British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing in the 1930s. Famous for his code-breaking work as a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park during WWII he later developed further theories in machine intelligence.

The AI system, ChatGPT, uses a large-language model that is trained on vast amounts of textual data with the answers generated using a sequence of predicted words. When you sign up to the app and ask it a question it will generate an answer like an actual human conversation. Nowadays generative AI systems have become commonplace amongst language students and as a study aid for research.

Earlier this year the UK Government launched a white paper on AI to introduce regulations in the industry whilst also encouraging innovation. It announced £2 million funding for a new sandbox – a trial environment to allow businesses to test new AI programming in safety.  

A 2019 study by the UK Intellectual Property Office looked at the growth of patent filing in the AI sector both in the UK and globally. The last decade has seen increases of over 400% in the number of AI patent applications that have been published, with the UK sector seeing its AI patenting activity double during this time.

Interestingly around 88% of AI type patents that were first filed in the UK are also protected in other territories. This contrasts with the US and China where 53% and 19%, respectively, have patents protected across other jurisdictions. he full study can be found here.

AI is no longer just the realms of science fiction. It has slowly infiltrated our everyday lives to become our ‘virtual reality’.

Whether AI systems should be viewed as a threat to our society or seen as a powerful tool that will shape the future of industry is for individuals to decide.

What is certain is that as AI technology advances further it will significantly impact on all our lives and will streamline many tasks that only a decade ago were thought only possible by humans. If used carefully and cleverly, the invention of artificial intelligence will enhance productivity, revolutionize healthcare, and help shape a brighter future.