At its simplest, artificial intelligence, or AI, is when machines mimic human intelligence. An AI system is designed to analyze data, adapt to new inputs, and improve its performance with each successive use. It does this by using algorithms that look for patterns in enormous amounts of data that it is fed over time.
The technology is evolving rapidly, but AI is already present in many applications we use every day. Things like Google Search, recommendations on streaming services, targeted ads, virtual assistants like Siri, facial recognition, and language translation software—they all use AI.
Generative AI has stepped into the spotlight in recent years. Generative AI is an artificial intelligence that can generate text, images, or other types of media using natural language processing. OpenAI's ChatGPT, for example, is a large language model chatbot that can have conversations with the user based on their prompts, but it can also generate software code, essays, and songs. Text-to-image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E can create photos and artwork based on prompts. There are other systems that can generate music, videos, and even predict the 3D structure of a protein molecule.
Businesses already benefit from using artificial intelligence systems in many ways, but there are four use cases that will be most beneficial as more products are introduced.
AI as creative assistant
Employees can use generative AI tools like ChatGPT or GitHub CoPilot to generate creative suggestions to solve problems, retrieve information, or help with outputting ideas.
AI as business process outsourcing
The future of business processes is automation and large language models like GPT-4 will enable businesses to automate regular, high-volume or time-consuming tasks without a large technical barrier. Tasks like routing tickets, medical coding, scheduling and more could be taken over by an AI system and free up time for more important work.
AI as digital experience
Technologies like predictive recommendations, intelligent search, and virtual assistants already serve as an AI connection between consumers and businesses, but as the technology evolves, more opportunities to engage customers will arise.
AI as prediction and forecasting
Many AI systems are predictive at their core, from predicting what other shows someone will like to large language models predicting the next word in a sequence. In the near future, businesses will be able to leverage these tools to predict things that will affect their bottom line, like consumer demand for a product based on historical trends or predict stock market responses to different factors.
As the potential use cases for artificial intelligence grow, so does the need for safeguards around this technology. All AI technology requires the input of vast amounts of data for pattern learning. That creates issues of data privacy, responsible use, and transparency on how our personal data is used. With generative AI, there is concern over the spread of misinformation and the creation of deep fakes. As AI systems become more sophisticated and require less human input, there will need to be ethical guidelines in place.