The human mind is an awesome creative machine that has created many things which were previously unimaginable, one of the most important amongst which is Artificial Intelligence. Not only do we think and solve many of our own daily problems but our scientists and IT experts have also taught computers how to think and solve problems much more complex and vast than our personal ones.

Before the existence of AI, people were making rules for machines to follow and function under, but now we give problems to machines to solve and learn from on their own. Today’s AI is very near the peak of the mountain point and from there on it will be integrated on a large scale across a plethora of platforms and devices like sensors and systems and the internet of things which will lead to AI becoming impactful in all industries imaginable.

One of the factors that have contributed to its rapid acceleration is the generation and spread of massive amounts of data from one place to another unlike ever before. Over the next 5 years it’s estimated that the amount of data we create is set to increase by 36% in compound annual growth, reveals Heath Terry of Goldman Sachs Research.

The second prominent power that has lifted AI off from the labs and into the offices of technology companies and other industries like transportation and security is the surge in the machine’s computing power. The enormous computing power of our times has made it possible for us to be able to obtain the answers we need from our computers in near to real time, making the endeavors economically sensible.

With that, the ethics of technology development have also vastly changed. Open sourced algorithms allow developers today to build on the work of other programmers in a way that they haven’t before in the past. AI has already seeped into the conveniences of daily life like our smart home devices and mobile phones using Alexa or Siri. We see traffic navigation and Facebook’s photo tagging mechanisms using AI to make our procedures simpler and faster.

Some of the upcoming fields in which AI is set to bring about a great change is health and medicine. This is already being done through sensors which are aimed at fast diagnosis, leaving behind doctors whether its lung cancer’s visual scanning or sniffing out colon cancer compounds in the breath. Medicine and drug testing are also becoming remarkably fast.

Last week researchers from a San Francisco-based startup AtomWise published their research paper that showed how their artificial intelligence system can shorten the amount of drug discovery time from months to just days. This AI-powered technology speeds up the early drug discovery phase by analyzing how various molecules interact. The software independently learns about these molecular interactions by detecting patterns in a similar way to how AI learns to recognize images. The company used IBM’s fast data processors to compute their data, something which would have taken a laptop 10000 years to do. The software by AtomWise has already helped in the creation of medicines for Ebola and multiple sclerosis.

Artificial Intelligence, beyond assisting researchers, is now on the cusp of changing and possibly saving the world as announced by one company, DeepMind, an AI development startup which was obtained by Google in 2014.  Mustafa Suleman, the Syrian co-founder and the head of applied AI in the company describes their mission as that of “solving intelligence”.  The company based the way they build AI on the same concept as the essence of human intelligence and problem-solving. In his talk last year, Suleman said that the purpose of his company is to use intelligence to make the world a better place.

Their exquisite systems have already defeated the world’s best Go player at his own game and their self-teaching autonomous car navigated all by itself around the London underground in October. However, their focus is now on bigger things like clean water, climate change, and availability of food.

They have started their mission by efficiently reducing Google’s data center usage of electricity for cooling by an astounding 40%, with the help of machine learning. As globally data centers consume 3% of all the energy it means that DeepMind’s intelligent and efficient system is aiding in more than just cutting down electricity costs for its parent company, instead, it’s potentially reducing the burden on the climate and helping in lessening the threat climate change poses to our planet.  By taking the idea to the national grid, their impact can be enhanced tenfold.

Suleman is also directing his organization’s capabilities towards the betterment of healthcare with NHS for real-time tracking of data through the app called Streams. With that, the company is working in collaboration with University College Hospital London to automate the examination of CT scans and with Moorfields Eye Hospital to detect eye blinding diseases earlier.

Google, however, is not the only one that believes that artificial intelligence can help save the world. Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer also trusts that with the power that AI is soon to be equipped with, it can solve issues of the magnitude of the entire planet.

However with the power comes responsibility, which has been the pinnacles of every debate conducted on the topic. All innovators are equally concerned about the ethical concerns which would need to be addressed before machines are given the ability to make decisions for us. Hence resulted in the formation of OpenAI, a billion dollar effort of entrepreneurs including Elon Musk who want to create AI that benefits humanity. Yet, whether its self-driving trucks speeding away for hours until they come across a wrongly passing human or it’s using AI in giving criminal suspects sentences, the ethicality of AI decision making is yet to be answered.

Regardless of the challenges that surround the proper usage of the technology, we know that we are heading towards better, faster and more intelligent AI. Now with that certainty, what is left to see for us is how it improves and affects our life in ways we can and maybe can’t imagine.

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