Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving field that has taken the world by storm over the past six months. In this article, we'll provide a simple introduction to AI for complete beginners. There’s also a glossary at the bottom of the page that explains what some common AI terms mean.
What is AI?
At its core, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence.
With AI, we can create helpful tools that can:
1. Understand and talk with us: AI can understand human language and help us by answering questions, giving suggestions, or having conversations.
2. Learn from experience: AI can improve and get better at tasks over time by learning from data and examples, just like humans learn from practice.
3. Make predictions: AI can analyze data to find patterns and trends, helping us make predictions about future events or outcomes.
4. Recognize images and sounds: AI can identify objects, people, or animals in photos, and understand spoken words or music, which can help with tasks like searching for images or transcribing speech.
And much more!
How does AI work?
In simple terms, AI works by mimicking human thinking and learning processes. To do this, AI uses computer programs called algorithms, which are like sets of rules or instructions that the computer follows to solve problems or complete tasks.
One important technique used in AI is called machine learning. This is when computers teach themselves how to do tasks by looking at examples and finding patterns, without being given exact instructions. Imagine a child learning to recognize animals: they do this by looking at many pictures of animals and noticing their features, like ears, tails, or colors. Similarly, AI can learn from lots of data, like text or images, and improve over time as it processes more information.
Why is AI suddenly so popular?
Artificial intelligence requires a lot of data to make it work. This data can take a long time to collect and put in a usable format for computers to understand. Plus, advanced AI requires significant computing power which simply wasn't possible until only recently. With continuous improvements in technology, it’s finally feasible to be able to process the huge amounts of data required for AI to function.
What is ChatGPT and how does it work?
ChatGPT is an AI language model developed by OpenAI, which is designed to generate human-like text based on the input it receives. It works by processing and understanding the context of a given text, such as a question or statement, and then generating a relevant and coherent response.
When you interact with ChatGPT, it predicts the most likely words or phrases to come next in a sentence, based on its understanding of the context and its knowledge from training. This process continues until it generates a complete and coherent response.
In addition to ChatGPT, OpenAI also has a product called DALL·E 2 which can create images and art based on written descriptions.
Microsoft has invested over $10 billion in OpenAI in a deal that also makes Microsoft the exclusive provider of much of the computing power required to make projects like ChatGPT function.
What is Bard?
As their participant in the AI race, Google has developed Bard, which is a chat service they've built that’s meant to function similarly to ChatGPT. The biggest difference between the two is Bard will pull its information directly from the web which could allow it to provide fresher and more timely responses. ChatGPT, on the other hand, can only pull information from its training data which currently only goes up to September 2021 (there's currently a beta version of ChatGPT that tests the functionality of pulling more timely information directly from the web).
According to Google, Bard is now available to over 180 countries and territories with more coming soon.
What can AI do for me?
AI as a chatbot:
AI chatbots are like advanced virtual assistants which can respond to user inquiries in a human-like way. ChatGPT, for example, functions like a chatbot where you can interact in a conversational way and ask it to iterate on previous responses in the conversation.
Other companies are also able to build their own chatbots using ChatGPT’s technology or using their own data models. Poe, for example, is a new AI chatbot app that's been created by the team at Quora. It allows users to generate chatbot responses from a number of available AI chatbots including ChatGPT and Anthropic.
In their latest release, Poe even lets users customize their very own chatbot in just a few steps, meaning you could have your own personalized AI chatbot that’s powered by some of the most powerful AI models out there but can respond in exactly the way you want.
AI to help you code
In June 2021, GitHub announced GitHub Copilot as a collaboration with OpenAI. Copilot helps you write code more efficiently by automatically suggesting entire lines or blocks of code as you type, similar to how Gmail suggests words and sentences as you write an email. Copilot can really help you to write code faster, reduce the number of errors you make while coding, and even help to introduce you to new code libraries and functions.
AI as a content generator
AI can be a helpful tool for coming up with ideas and creating content. It's like having a creative assistant that can suggest topics or even write articles, stories, or social media posts for you. AI works by analyzing lots of information it has learned and then using that knowledge to make suggestions or create new content.
There are several tools that currently offer this functionality, from Craft’s AI Assistant to ChatGPT, to tools designed especially for content creation like JasperAI.
AI translation tools
Many people will already be familiar with Google Translate and may have used it on trips abroad, and Deepl is another AI translation tool that’s growing in popularity and reliability. These tools work by using AI to learn from lots of examples of translated text. The AI then figures out the rules and patterns for each language and uses this knowledge to do translations by changing the words and sentences from the original language to the new language.
Technological advancement even empowers these tools to translate voice or images and not just written text, making it easier than ever to communicate and get around whilst abroad.
AI transcription tools
AI transcription tools are incredibly helpful for a variety of tasks, such as turning interviews, lectures, or podcasts into written documents. They save time and effort for both individuals and businesses and have become increasingly accurate and efficient as technology advances. These tools work by using AI to recognize and understand human speech, and then convert it into written text. Some of the most popular AI Transcription tools include Otter.ai and Descript.
Where can I learn more about AI?
As AI continues to grow more popular and prominent, there are also an increasing number of publications and conversations about it. Below are some of my favorites for staying up-to-date. I'll continue to update the list with time.
Ben Tossell, the founder of Makerpad, runs a daily newsletter and shares some of the top links and news stories about AI every weekday.
This YouTube channel covers topics related to AI in a simple and easy-to-understand format. Videos are published a few times a week.
AI Glossary - your guide to AI terminology and what it means
AI is when computers can do tasks that usually need human thinking, like solving problems, understanding language, or playing games. It uses different techniques to make machines smarter and able to complete tasks that would usually require human intelligence.
Artificial general intelligence:
Put simply, AGI describes when AI has evolved to a state where it can learn and think as humans do and display distinctively human traits like reason, logic, and problem-solving. AGI is a long-term goal for AI researchers, but it's currently only theoretical, it's not been created yet.
An algorithm is a set of rules or steps that a computer follows to solve a problem or complete a task. Think of it like a recipe for a computer, telling it how to mix ingredients (data) and cook them (process) to get the desired result (solution).
A neural network is a computer program that works like the human brain, with many connected parts (neurons) that help it learn and make decisions. These networks are often used in AI to help computers recognize patterns, make predictions, and adapt to new information.
Machine learning is when computers teach themselves how to do tasks by looking at examples and finding patterns, without being given exact instructions. This way, they can improve over time and get better at their tasks as they learn from more and more data.
Deep learning is a type of machine learning that uses complex neural networks, with many layers, to help computers learn from large amounts of data. This allows them to solve more difficult problems, like recognizing pictures, understanding speech, or translating languages.
ChatGPT is a computer program made by OpenAI that can understand and create human-like text. It uses AI techniques, like deep learning, to understand context and generate responses that are relevant and natural-sounding. ChatGPT can help people with things like answering questions, having conversations, or even writing articles.
Natural Language Processing:
NLP is a part of AI that helps computers understand and work with human language, like reading text or having a conversation. It involves tasks like analyzing sentences, understanding meaning, and generating human-like responses. NLP is important for creating AI systems that can interact with people in a natural and helpful way.
OpenAI is the company that's behind ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 and has several notable founders including Elon Musk and Sam Altman. The company says that its mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.