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What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the use of computers to make decisions or solve problems in the same ways that humans do.

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What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the use of computers to make decisions or solve problems in the same ways that humans do. This is done through the use of massive data—or “big data”—and learning from that data over time. An element of AI is machine learning which is the use of big data to identify trends and to use those trends to make decisions and to improve the computer functioning over time. AI is considered to be self-learning technology. Amazon’s Alexa is an example of AI.

The history of artificial intelligence

The “birth” of AI is generally credited to Alan Turing, a mathematician and computer scientist who posed the question “can machines think?” in his paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence in 1950. Turing was the subject of the 2014 movie The Imitation Game.

In the 1980’s neural networks with the ability to train themselves became common in AI applications. An early example was IBM’s Deep Blue which beat the world’s chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1997. IBM is also the developer of Watson which beat two more chess champions in 2011.  

Concerns about AI

Several well-known scientists and business leaders, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates. Concerns range from the impact of AI on jobs to concerns that AI could eventually lead to machines taking over. As Hawking said in a BBC interview: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Despite these dire predictions, though, AI continues to be used in a variety of business settings, including HR.

What is AI used for?

AI is used in a number of ways today including speech recognition, customer service, big data analysis and more. In HR, AI can be used to automate many functions including talent acquisition, the use of chatbots to respond to employee questions, benefit administration, learning and development and much more. AI can also be used for predictive analytics—turning data into predictions. For instance, predicting which employees are most at risk of voluntary turnover. 

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