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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Artificial intelligence and machine learning as the way of the future

Throughout our existence, humanity has had an active hand in revolutionising the planet to our own specifications. We have built entire cities and machines that fly through the air and take us to faraway lands. At the time, every innovation at our own hand, no matter how big or small, seemed to be nothing special, just the next natural stage in our evolution. Looking back, however, we can clearly see that those seemingly small steps have set the wheels in motion for pivotal moments that changed the entire world. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. As time as moved us on, our innovations and implementations have grown in maturity, eventually becoming more technological than not. Over time, the stakes have risen again and again until there was nowhere to go but up; our grasp on technological evolution had become too tight to let go. We were spiralling and entering an era that we were not altogether prepared for. Technology has a way of continuously exceeding expectations and thriving beyond expectation. One of the most controversial feats of technological advancement is the development and early implementation of artificial intelligence.

Technology has presented us with solutions, but it has also made notable mistakes. The introduction of the first semi-autonomous vehicle was met with the unfortunate few fatalities involving the first prototypes. We make mistakes and then we learn. It happens with any great innovation – nothing worth having comes easily. From using technologies that utilize real credit card numbers for easy payment methods, to decking out our entire homes with the latest AI and machine learning tech, we are more reliant on these types of technologies than ever before, and that reliance is not like to go anywhere any time soon. Our presence on Earth has changed the planet irrevocably. In some respects, this has been a good thing. We have developed – and continue to do so – vaccines, treatments, and even cures for diseases that were previously considered unstoppable.

We have used technology to bring people together, to allow individuals to have full access to an education – no matter where in the world they may be. With every great success story in the field, there has come challenges and hurdles that seem to not only not budge, but to cause additional issues as well that then must have their own learning curves. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are not the same thing. It is a common misconception that these two ideals are one in the same but they are just closely linked. AI is the founding concept of that technology. It refers to machines that can carry out tasks “intelligently”. Not only are the machines programmed to do a single, repetitive task, but they can adapt and evolve to take on unfamiliar tasks as well.

Meanwhile, machine learning is a branch of AI. More specific than the whole concept, machine learning is based on the idea that we can create machines to process data and teach themselves. What this does is eliminate the need for human supervision. Utilising AI and machine learning for things like tedious systems, lengthy processes, and even tasks that require acute, undiluted attention to detail, is the key to creating a better future. And the future is ready for these changes. Even though both concepts are relatively new, they have revolutionised the world in more ways than one. While it is not true that AI and machine learning are being developed as an elaborate plan to take over the world, both platforms of technological advancement have been evolving significantly in recent months.  This exponential growth is due largely to the demand.

Once everyone began to realise the undeniable benefits of AI and machine learning utilisation, they all jumped on the bandwagon and the investments began to roll in at unprecedented amounts, as did general interest in the concepts. When the entire world is screaming for more, there is not much to do but give them what they want. More to the point, the world genuinely needs AI and machine learning now. Not only convenient, efficient, and fast-paced, both tech concepts are heading genuinely important work that is changing the world – such as home assistants that help disabled individuals throughout the day and night.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have had an incredible effect on our presence on the planet so far. We are familiar with technological advancement and digitalisation by now, but the far reaches that both AI and machine learning have accomplished in the little time they have been around is nothing short of phenomenal. Going into the future, AI and machine learning are going to definitively be the way of the world. With so much room for improvement, so much necessity for change, and so much potential for expansion, there is nowhere to go but up. Going into the new year, we can – and should – expect to see much more of AI and machine learning in daily life. The work has only just begun, and the future is bright.

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