What is Artificial Intelligence?

AI is quickly becoming one of the most talked about technologies available to us today. From written work, programming and unique images, AI can seemingly do it all. But what is artificial intelligence and how can we use it to our advantage? We are here to help you get to grips with this new technology that is making such an impact on our world.

What is AI?

Even though it may seem like a new form of technology, AI has been around since the 1950s. Back then, it was defined similarly as it is today a machine’s ability to perform tasks that would usually only be able to be performed through the capability of human intelligence. Some of these human intelligence traits that AI can emulate include speech recognition, visual perceptions, problem-solving, planning, language translation and learning. 

AI systems such as ChatGPT and Google Bard use data to create responses and decisions without any specific programming. AI has become an important application in broad areas such as healthcare, finance, transport, education and more.  

Different types of AI  

AI is affecting everything and everyone, and the benefits of AI for day-to-day activities are manifold. AI can help with the smallest or biggest of tasks, and here are some of the different types of AI that may interest you.  

  • Narrow AI - This type of intelligence, usually referred to as ‘weak’ AI, is a vital system incorporated into modern computer technology. This innovation helps with learning and giving information to undertake tasks without being specifically programmed to do so This is one of the more well-known systems of AI as it uses a search engine basis to gather data and then output that data for its audience or user. Narrow AI is not conscious, sensitive or driven by emotion like humans, but instead, this device works with a predetermined range of information to deliver responses. Examples of narrow AI are Google Translate, Grammarly, Siri, ChatGPT and more  
  • Artificial general intelligence (AGI): This type of intelligence which is most often used in conjunction with ‘Strong AIrepresents the ability of machines to understand learning and processes usually directly undertaken by us humans. This application does have the ability to access information like humans through direct reasoning, communication and problem-solving. AGI has a cognitive ability that Narrow AI does not. This form of Ai is becoming more ingrained into our everyday society. Examples of AGI are Self-driving cars, AlphaGo, GPT-3, image recognition and more. 
  • Superintelligence (ASI): This type of intelligence is more advanced in the sense that it surpasses the capacities of the human brain and cognitive abilities. ASI is self-aware and has the ability to think of abstractions and understandings humans cannot. As well as this, the system can comprehend human emotions, decisions and experiences and can also develop its own beliefs and emotions based on the AI’s self-comprehension. At the moment, ASI is more of a theoretical concept than a real-life one. However, some examples, such as characters like R2D2 and other functioning and thinking robots, envision this kind of AI. 
  • Machine Learning (ML). This type of intelligence is a subfield in AI that uses algorithms and statics to access information. This application is more mathematical in its process and works with computer applications to learn without programming. ML is mostly used to complete complex tasks like a human brain would when problem-solving. Some examples of ML are face recognition, automated emails, medical imaging such as Xirays and more.  

Expert opinion  

We spoke to Dr Mariam Adedoyin-Olowe, Programme Leader of MSc Artificial Intelligence in the School of Computing and Digital Technology at Birmingham City University to get her opinion on how AI is changing our world and the future.

The AI field is data-rich, and it thrives on data where it can spot long-term, hidden patterns and make predictions at a pace that people cannot. These tools will define the future for medical treatment and professionals will need to be AI-literate in the future. For instance, Short- and Long-term healthcare are challenging areas to work in, with a range of experts required to generate positive outcomes for people over time. Right down from healthy life choices to critical care, AI has the scope to effect significant change in the health domain.

AI stock trading implements robo-advisors which has the capability of scrutinising millions of data points for each stock and assist in the execution of trades at the peak price. With AI technology, traders can forecast the stock markets with higher accuracy. AI systems also help traders lessen risks and provide higher returns.

Our lives are becoming increasingly interwoven with AI-based systems. Since artificial intelligence is applied in various areas to make important decisions about us and our lives, it is essential we ensure that this technology works for the benefit of all of us. 

Student Content Assistant, final year English student

What should you do next?

Come to a Postgraduate Open Event

Our campuses have a real buzz about them, at our Open Events, you’ll have the chance to experience it for yourself. See where you could be attending lectures, getting on with independent study and meeting fellow postgrads for a coffee.

Register for the next Open Event

Download our postgraduate guide

Our Postgraduate Guide provides details of all our postgraduate taught and research courses. It also provides information about the research environment at Birmingham City University

Download the guide

Apply for a course

So, you’re interested in applying for postgraduate study? Here’s a step-by-step guide covering all you need to know to apply. Unlike undergraduate degrees where you will apply via UCAS, you can apply straight to the University for a postgraduate degree.

Find out how to apply

Get advice on your personal statement

Not sure what's required of you in a postgraduate personal statement? Don't worry, our guide has top tips, examples from real students and all the guidance you'll need.

Download the guide

View our on-demand webinars

Taking a postgraduate course is a big investment in your future, and you’ll want to be sure that you’re choosing the right course and the right university. Our on-demand webinars will provide you with useful information and answers to any questions you may have.

View webinars