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Embracing Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence or AI, a term describing a robot’s limited intellect, is centuries old. The first known mechanical human-type goes back to the third century BC in China and made by someone called Yan Shi. It was called an Artificer.

In recent times the first digitally operated programmed robot was invented in 1954 by George Devol and named Unimate, suggesting working together, thus defining it as a mechanical helper. For the AI naysayers, it may help to remember that human innovation is constantly evolving. To stop it would be like trying to hold back time. We’ve gone from walking to riding animals to cycling, driving steam engines to electric trains and then driving cars to flying airplanes. Why would we stop there?

The smart thing is to embrace change and use our natural creativity, to work with AI to our best advantage.

Improving on the Artificer and the Unimate was inevitable as the new dawn of the computer and the internet arrived. The following shows how useful AI can be:


Messages are sent at such high speed now that assistance from emergency services is much quicker, often saving lives. Communication - through computers and smartphones - has become indispensable in the workplace.


Cameras and high-tech systems are invaluable for safety and security in the public space, but especially so in high risk situations in business and at home.


High risk work like firefighting can have the danger reduced with the use of robots. Drones are often used in many risky operations too.


AI can be used to make assessments that people take much longer to make, as in surveys where customer needs are determined, eliminating unnecessary trial and error. Planning, analyses, performance monitoring and predictions can all be sped up, arranged and completed more efficiently. The retail trend to focus on customer satisfaction rather than product is assisted by AI. AI takes the guessing out of this with calculations, assessments by tracking customer trends more accurately and much faster.


In the manufacturing industry, people often get distracted and tire easily, making errors more likely. Those companies leading in all fields will be those that have integrated AI with conventional methods. Assembly lines that have automated systems that combine AI with intelligent vision systems can prevent recalls of defective goods by reducing defects being missed.


With the ever present challenge of food security the use of many new labour-saving inventions has led to faster and more efficient production of food.


The new technology list for clearing up the environment is endless, having arisen out of modern lifestyles, a natural consequence of human evolution. One of the biggest polluters being cars. The logical answer was the electric car. More advanced inventions will follow the electric car, if science fiction has anything to do with it.


AI is used in the medical field for procedures that result in less invasive techniques and often with more effective results.


In the need for directions and mapping, the intellectual capacity of AI, limited though it is, guides users with navigating systems that speak instructions in place of reading these from a map. Since then, the personal use of companion robots that can actually engage in conversation with people, are being developed. Some devices can even make decisions depending on the software and algorithms. Travel to space and other planetary ventures are supported by AI.

The reservations that some people have may be that AI will replace people to the extent that employment becomes an issue. It helps to remember that human beings still have to develop the systems, maintain them and constantly improve them for efficiency, thus requiring employees. Design, innovation and ideas are things that man still controls. Even when a robot makes a decision it is based on human input, the algorithm and human design.

Mechanical work, which nobody enjoys anyway, is where AI is most useful, leaving people to focus on more important and more rewarding activity. A robot will do the boring stuff more efficiently and without complaint, also eliminating those very human factors; mistakes, distraction and forgetfulness. An interesting idea from an American presidential candidate is the suggestion that all workers, immediately and potentially affected by AI replacements, should be compensated with a share of the profit big corporations make. Retail depends on consumers and they need funds to be consumers. The bigger challenge will be how governments can implement this.

Misuse of inventions is always the unpredictable human factor. One can hardly stop the march of development because people have not evolved enough to keep up with their own inventions.

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Then check out our blog page which is regularly updated. Previous posts include mental health in the workplace, feeling sleep deprived and why employers should trust employees.

Lynda R Stephen ©

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