Artificial Imagination

In 1956 John McCarthy first used the term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), referring to the skill of making intelligent machines. Over the years and technological advances have allowed data analysis through software specialized in solving different problems.

Today, AI is an increasingly less abstract concept. We often see it in movies, TV shows, science news, and even in apps on our cell phones. Thanks to AI, today we have solutions in areas such as health, education, leisure and the environment that, years ago, only existed in science fiction.

More common than we imagine

When we look for an address in Waze, we ask Siri for a movie recommendation or we consult Alexa for a song we’re interested in, we use AI. The same happens when we interact with a chatbot or virtual assistant, which simulates a conversation through interactions with predetermined keywords. Chatbots are increasingly present on pages of companies that are dedicated to selling products or services, as they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and respond immediately.

There are other more technical or specialized AI applications. For example, the MIRAI risk assessment model: a software developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that helps in the early detection of breast cancer. In these cases, the AI analyzes and compares thousands of available images and predicts the risk of developing this disease years before it occurs.

In a report entitled How can AI enable a sustainable future?, developed by the consulting firm PwC, it is mentioned that this technology could reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by up to 4%. This would represent 160 million tons of CO2 by 2030, would allow a reduction in the use of agrochemicals and increase crop productivity.

The NGO Rainforest Connection has placed acoustic sensors in trees inside protected areas in 35 countries, including Costa Rica, Brazil, Italy, Australia and the Congo. These sensors report, in real time, sounds of chainsaws, vehicles, shots, and others. Thus, the AI alerts the authorities of possible cases of illegal logging or hunting.

More and more companies and factories are applying AI to improve and increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption in their facilities. This is possible by analyzing consumption patterns with weather data, along with other variables.

Since 2022, Google has developed and made available an AI that starts from the analysis of climate data, aerial photographs and historical records and warns about floods in different countries in Africa and Latin America. In this way it is possible to locate, one week in advance, the areas that could be affected by floods.

The future

In 2005 Raymond Kurzweil, a specialist in computer science, predicted that by 2029 machines would reach a level of intelligence equal to that of humans and that by 2045 they would exceed it a billion times. This creates significant challenges and concerns, both for AI detractors and supporters.

The pace at which the AI advances is fast, leaving some important elements behind. For example, there are currently legal gaps that complicate the analysis of lawsuits filed against AI for violation of copyright regulations in the image creation process.

There are those who can imagine an apocalyptic world controlled by intelligent machines or, in a less extreme line, a future in which many jobs are not executed by humans. However, AI also generates new niches in specialized areas and creates benefits for the environment, society and economy.

We live in an age where the only constant is change. We must adapt in the best possible way, and for that it is important to know the world around us. Being clear about what and how to use the available information is necessary to take advantage of existing technological tools. The uses of AI are almost infinite, only limited by the human imagination or perhaps it is better to say: only limited by the artificial imagination.