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AI: fact and fiction

This step will deepen your understanding of what AI is, and try to separate fact from fiction.
Robot hand holding magnifying glass

In the previous activity, you were given some definitions of AI and you shared your own ideas about the power and scope of AI. This step will deepen your understanding of what AI is, and try to separate fact from fiction.

As you discovered previously, AI can sometimes be hard to define in a simple way because of the complex issues that surround it. Maybe it would be better to adjust our thinking slightly.

Instead of trying to find an exact definition of AI, we could focus on looking at what practical applications of AI are doing right now. These include:

  • automatic generation of text to help people write emails
  • identification of objects in video streams to help automatic cars navigate busy streets
  • the generation of novel images based on specific artistic styles.

These are the kinds of things that people are talking about when they talk about AI.

In the media and the movies you may have seen more sensational speculation about what AI can do. You may have heard people talking about artificial beings that are self aware, or even AI systems that might one day take over the world. These are definitely interesting (and maybe scary!) issues to think about.

However, our focus is on the practical ways in which AI applications are currently affecting the creative industries. We are not going to worry about defining intelligence or investigating whether human-like consciousness can be synthetically created in a computer. We also won’t trouble ourselves about the impending robot world domination! Whilst these scenarios are very interesting to speculate about, the chances of them happening are actually extremely small.

This view is shared by Geoffrey Hinton, one of the most important AI researchers in the world. Geoffrey’s work with Google has led to the recent revolution in AI and, therefore, to this very conversation. According to him, these kinds of AI, which happen to be the kinds that people are most concerned about, are possibly so remote that they might never happen at all.

Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly some scary issues that face us with respect to AI, as with any technology. We will cover these issues throughout this course by looking at specific practitioners and hearing from experts about real concerns that are being explored right now.

Have your say

Can you find any mention of AI in the media?
What are the connotations attached to it?
Share your thoughts with other learners in the Comments section.
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Introduction to Creative AI

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