in technology

Artificial Intelligence. Time to start applying our own intelligence to this opportunity and challenge for the future

Today the House of Lords publish a report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – “AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?”

This very comprehensive report from a select committee setup to examine this up to date topic, underlines the importance of this developing technology on the future of the world, the UK and our lives.

In practice we’re already surrounded by Artificial Intelligence (or machine learning) embedded in so many forms into the way we live our lives. But we’re only starting out on this journey of discovery, development and opportunity. What’s to come?

In the 1980’s, whilst studying Computer Science at university, we were already excited by Artificial Intelligence. The Turing test was an active discussion, we played with “expert systems” as we knew them then and we were told then to expect great things from AI. Except it seems to have taken a while since then to take hold. Decades in fact. But things are accelerating. AI dominates technology talk as well as increasingly popular news. It’s an economic driver worldwide these days. Challenges placed before AI (beating humans at Chess and then at the more complex problem of Go) are tumbling away. 

Want some examples close to home? Take a look at the recently started Machine Learning journal (blog) from Apple. Siri, image recognition, character recognition and more that you take for granted in your iDevice all have some pretty amazing AI related work behind them. Dip into this article about linguistics just to get started and then start to reassess what you think AI is all about.

So who knows what the future will bring? Opportunity? Threat to jobs and industry? Destruction of humanity through ‘the singularity’?

The importance of AI is underlined by the very fact that the Lord review has happened at all. There’s a lot to digest in this report and I’m only part way through digesting it all, but business leaders will now be examining this in some detail – not just the technologists I’m sure.

I’m keen to see how AI is going to impact the charitable sector – especially smaller charities, and I’m hosting a discussion workshop this month exploring the topic. AI is here to stay and is going to change our world. Will it change our sector? I’m interested to find out.