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The Truth Behind AI’s Capabilities, Now and in the Future

By Hannah Smith , Jul 29, 2019 10:59 AM EDT

Technology is an exciting ball-game. Everyone wants the latest stuff, now, yet they always keep an eye solidly fixed on the future. It's a world full of anticipation and predictions, where both excitement and fear grow hand in hand. The current buzzy trend-term that's been floating around the internet and tech industries alike is artificial intelligence.

There's been a lot of talk about how artificial intelligence will change the world. But how much of it is rooted in reality and how much is fanciful rumination? Here's the truth about the current outlook for the future of AI.

The Almighty AI Revolution Is Coming... Or Is It?

For years now, people have been talking about how AI will take over people's lives and jobs. Watch out, because artificial intelligence will take over farming, driving, manufacturing, and even some medical professions. Some of this is based on truth. Autonomous cars do exist and continue getting better, and there's at least one case of AI beating human doctors at a medical diagnosis. But for the most part, the near-magical capabilities of AI, lauded by non-experts and media outlets, have been exaggerated.

In some ways, it's steadily catching up to this hype thanks to continued efforts by tech giants. Yet the AI that everyone imagines when they think of the concept is still far off. That self-developing intelligence that keeps learning and switching between tasks like a human would? It's still a fantasy. But the AI that exists right now is improving rapidly, nonetheless - just not in the way most people expected it would.

Right now, AI is excellent at improving on a pre-selected task it's been given. It uses massive amounts of data (which is continuously being produced, thanks to the internet) to learn. So AI is steadily growing, but in an autonomous, task-driven approach that will improve on any efforts to sort through repetitive work with massive amounts of data attached.

What it cannot do, however, is think independently to create new sets of tasks on its own. A human hand is still needed to guide the process and make sure that the development stays its course.

In other words, keep hustling the daily grind because AI isn't coming to take over anytime soon.

Turning an Eye to the Future

Right now, the biggest impact AI will have is opening up the potential that's already there. Open-source platforms have become common ground between tech companies and ordinary dabblers. 

These powerful tools can be downloaded by anyone, allowing them to take apart and use the code however they please. Plus, the computing power needed to work with AI algorithms is becoming more widely available, and cheaper. Meaning even teenagers have a shot at developing incredible new technology.

But what will the landscape of AI and other supporting technology look like in the near and distant future? It's really hard to guess since so much can change in a mere span of 10 years. After all, people now can do things that were considered unattainable at a layman's level only a few years ago.

That said, there are some clues that fill in the blank picture of the future of AI a bit. The benefits are there, of course, but there are plenty of perils on the way, too. Artificial intelligence has become entrenched into government activities, the private sector, and how people operate on the internet. Anyone with a phone or laptop, for instance, has access to deep fakes - AI-generated images or videos meant to look real. But there are real-world repercussions of this practice.

The rise of abusing AI for ulterior motives will coincide with a rise in other technologies as well, to combat those threats. For instance, more people are adopting VPN technology now than ever. That trend is set to increase even more as people look to protect themselves from invasion and exploitation. This is especially true in conjunction with the popularization of the IoT, which is growing synonymously with AI.

In Conclusion

There's no stopping the growth of cutting-edge technology - even if people wanted to. Sure, some fear-mongering has been spread around for years now about the dangers of AI. But this can be said for almost every new type of technology since the invention of modern manufacturing techniques.

People fear what they don't know, but by analyzing the truth of the matter, it's clear that some fears are unwarranted. On the other hand, new realistic threats can be identified before they affect anyone. The biggest defense to the pitfalls of any new technology is being prepared after all.  

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