Artificial intelligence (AI) can seem elusive. It sounds like it’s everywhere, but no one knows where exactly it is. However, that perception is not exactly right: AI development is here and is already making our lives better every day.
In this article, we walk you through some examples of how AI development is used in healthcare and in communities around the world. We also discuss a few promising examples of AI applications to look out for in the future.
What is AI?
AI is an area of computer science that focuses on creating programs that can reason, learn, and percept the world in ways similar to how humans do it. The ability to reason and build up knowledge allows AI programs to make smart decisions in situations where typically only humans can operate.
Within the field of AI, sub-fields like machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks, expert systems, computer vision, and more are getting lots of attention from the research community.
How AI Development Impacts the World Today
AI algorithms are already widespread today. However, in some fields, it’s more common than in others. In all cases, the most common type of AI development is narrow AI, a term for the kind of artificial intelligence that is capable of solving specific problems and answering questions strictly within its field of knowledge.
While general AI systems — those able to reason like a human would — are in research, there isn’t an entirely capable general AI system yet. Here are some examples of the successful use of task-specific AI:
Medical research. In the field of medical research, screening data and looking for patterns in cardiograms, x-ray scans, and blood tests is an essential but extremely time-consuming and challenging task for doctors and researchers to perform.
AI systems like PathAI and Freenome help find cancerous cells and assist doctors in diagnosing cancer in patients at an early stage. Some biotech companies, for example, Bioxcell Therapeutics, use AI development to speed up the process of drug discovery and development.
Autonomous driving. Steering a car in an automated way through the streets of a city or keeping distance from the cars ahead on a highway can be broken down to data processing, computation, and decision-making problems, and AI can handle all of those aspects.
These are just a few examples of existing products that take advantage of AI to offer new functionality and to improve the user experience.
However, AI’s impact doesn’t stop there. In the coming years, we should expect many parts of the healthcare systems around the world to change and start making use of artificial intelligence techniques.
The more comprehensive use of AI development will also impact the communities in many countries. Let’s take a look at what this impact might look like.
AI and Healthcare
The healthcare industry is still full of manual tasks. From analyzing a patient’s x-rays to helping someone understand if they have a cold and need to take a few days off work, you will find very little automation at doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinical research centers.
The goal of implementing AI development in healthcare is to reduce the amount of manual work for doctors and medical personnel while maintaining care standards and, in some cases, generating more accurate diagnoses than doctors can provide.
Reducing the amount of personal attention needed to treat a patient will reduce the overall cost of healthcare and lift the standards of living around the world. Here are the three areas where AI could make a difference in healthcare.
Being able to notice cancerous cells through a microscope in a laboratory sample of a patient’s tissue or fluid is an essential step in cancer diagnosis. Right now, diagnosing cancer requires a trained pathologist, expensive equipment, and time to get to the final results.
AI object recognition algorithms trained on massive sets of past diagnoses, images, and outcomes are already able to detect patterns in the laboratory images faster and more precisely than human pathologists. We should expect that capability to only improve in the future.
Much of the work the primary care physicians do is evaluate the symptoms and compare them against the patient’s medical history. It’s a time-consuming task on the doctor’s side, and it requires each patient to go to the doctor’s office for diagnosis physically.
Imagine how the healthcare system can change once AI helps patients understand whether they need to visit a doctor or if they can manage their illness at home with the help of local doctors.
Applications like Ada already do this and help reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the primary care doctors freeing the medical professionals up for those who do require their immediate attention.
When selecting patients for clinical trials, screening each candidate for the criteria specified for the trial can involve analyzing thousands of medical records, or finding specific characteristics in millions of tissue samples.
Soon, AI-powered solutions will be able to sift through the patients’ data significantly faster than any human would, and use analytical models to help find the perfect candidates for clinical trials.
AI and Its Impact on Communities
From personalized financial advice to individual reading recommendations, AI is making its way through communities around the globe.
AI development will help us raise the standards of living, make our cities safer, enable accessible education for all, and give us time back in our days. Here are three examples of how these results could come about.
Innovative User Experiences for Personal Finance
While categorizing credit card transactions can sound trivial, the ever-increasing number of merchants worldwide sometimes makes it hard to understand where your money is going. And, if you want to create customized budgets and keep track of how much you’re spending in each category, that task gets even harder.
Thankfully, AI algorithms can already categorize transactions for you with a very high level of accuracy. Reducing manual work and enabling everyone to take control of their spending can have an outsized positive impact on those saving for future life events and retirement.
Cars still dominate our cities, and with a push for autonomous driving, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If we want to reduce the traffic jams, lower noise levels, and speed up the transit for essential service vehicles, changing traffic lights at fixed intervals will no longer do it.
Using neural networks to simulate different traffic conditions using solutions like Aimsun can help city planners understand the implications of varying traffic decisions. For example, the changes for a series of traffic lights can even be automated through the use of machine learning algorithms.
The resulting traffic improvements will save each of the billions of city dwellers hundreds of hours in traffic every year and enable more efficient transportations in cities as the population grows.
Many police departments hold on to the archives of past crimes, but few of them make use of the data from previous cases to prevent future crimes. PredPol is an example of AI development that mines existing police reports and predicts where crimes of a particular type might happen.
Based on the predictions, police departments can more effectively allocate patrols and ensure everyone’s safety. We should expect such preventative solutions only to become more common.
AI is Still a Work in Progress
Even though AI solutions are already improving the world, this is still a work in progress. We will need to answer many ethical questions that involve AI, create the legislation to help us navigate the AI-powered world, and learn how to work with the algorithms to improve our well-being.
The field of AI needs more specialists and researchers than ever, and the pace of advancements in the field isn’t slowing down. Expect this field to continue generating innovative solutions to the world’s problems for years to come.
Interested in making an impact with AI development? Start learning today.