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Defining Artificial Intelligence

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Defining Artificial Intelligence

  • Course: AI for HR
  • Module: Artificial Intelligence Concepts
  • Lesson Type: Video
  • Lesson Duration: 2:41

Lesson Content

Artificial Intelligence, or “AI” as I’ll be calling it from this point on, refers to computer systems performing tasks which normally require human intelligence. This covers a huge range of feats from decision-making to language translation and speech recognition to visual perception.

This is where it’s good to dive into our first real breaking point where we start to split up the various types of AI’s into two main categories: General-AI and Task-Focused AI.

General-AI is where you get into Hollywood movies with characters like The Terminator. This is the sort of all-knowing, fully capable AI that can do everything. While these make for great movie villains, they’re still a long-way off in the real world. We might one day have robot butlers that know martial arts and can fly fighter jets, but that isn’t something we are worried about today, and certainly not in the workplace of tomorrow.

Task-Focused AI is what the name implies, a system designed to do a job. For example, IBM’s Watson was taught how to develop cancer treatment plans.

In presented studies, “Watson for Oncology” had treatment recommendations in line with doctors “96 percent of the time for lung cancer, and 93 percent of the time for rectal cancer” while screening for breast and lung cancers 78% faster than a human, reducing the screening time from 110 minutes to 24 minutes.

This is an incredible accomplishment and really shows how far the technology has advanced. Another buzzword that pops up all the time in regard to AI is “Machine Learning”.

This feature is perhaps the key to why AI is poised for such explosive growth. Machine learning is the ability of an AI to take in new data which it can then automatically use to “learn”. And by that we mean that it is altering its own algorithms or patterns to make the most of that new data.

For example, IBM’s Watson can do what no human could ever be expected to do. It actually reads all of the many hundreds of thousands of studies published in medical journals around the world on relevant subject matter each year. So its treatment plans are evolving in near real-time in a way that no doctor’s ever could. When studies show that Watson’s treatment plans don’t always match up with those of doctors, that does not necessarily mean Watson is wrong. The question is starting to be asked if the AI is learning ways to solve problems that the doctors haven’t yet considered.

So as we move deeper into the course material, we will be looking at the different tasks that AI does well, especially HR-related functions, and how task-focused AI will make their way into various workplaces. But next is another key distinction: what does AI do without human assistance and what does AI do in collaboration with people?

Michael Wilson


Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson works with small businesses to build and protect their brands online. He is an IT Generalist whose primary services include: Web Design & Development, Cybersecurity Consulting & Training,...

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