Artificial intelligence, known as AI, is the phrase on the lips of many scientists, engineers and members of the general public alike. It is clear to many that this kind of technology is on the rise, but considering the bigger picture, we are still taking baby steps.

The world is now working together to find out more about the capabilities of AI, and attempting to measure its future impact on the job sector, for example.

From manufacturing processes, which have benefitted from AI for a relatively long time within the field, to newer facial recognition mechanisms, the technology is now being implemented on a massive scale.

If it seems that you are faced with a new type of self check-in technology every time you visit the airport, this might be an entertaining novelty on the surface. However, there would have been a lot of thought put into the installation of every single kind of AI. This goes for all kinds of AI, everywhere on the planet. Every piece must be tested for safety and accuracy, and if it displaces some of the human workforce then this is a big thing to work around.

The main findings of the AI Index

The AI Index concerns the global effort to contribute towards the growth of AI. It was first published in December 2017, and the second edition was published a year later in December 2018. Contributors include only those who dedicate their work to AI, and research into AI. Members from Harvard, MIT, Stanford make up the academic authors. They are supplemented by the expert knowledge of members from OpenAI and the Partnership on AI industry consortium.

The following is a short summary of the main findings and differences between the 2017 and 2018 reports.

  • Despite both reports concluding that AI development is occurring at a previously unseen rate, this mostly applies to lower-level AI such as game-based machinery or alternate reality vision. Where AI still lacks plenty of development is more general automation which could begin to replace a human workforce.
  • The 2017 report was concentrated on U.S research, not because global research was dismissed, but because the U.S was responsible for the majority of it, as well as the most cited research. Efforts were made to produce a more global report in 2018, as this would naturally give a bigger picture of the global state of AI.
  • The 2018 report discovered that many Asian countries including China, Japan and South Korea are responsible for a high concentration of AI research. AI funding and research was shown to have exploded globally.
  • Europe was the largest contributor of AI research papers in 2018, with 28%. China alone was responsible for 25%, while North America produced 17%.

Work on the gaming industry is plentiful, but areas like NLP (natural language processing) lag behind. NLP is the kind of advancement that will allow AI to understand and respond to human communication.

How might the progression of AI affect society according to research?

There are going to be some tough topics to work through whenever AI becomes advanced enough to replace many tasks that humans are capable of completing.

Despite the general consensus that AI has already arrived and its takeover of the workforce is imminent, the AI Index as well as other specialist sources have indicated that the technology required for this to happen is still a long way off. We must also heed the warnings of those who tell us to prepare for the economic results of automation.