UNDERSTANDING AI MICROCOURSE
Learn about how AI works by understanding some applications of AI in image processing, medicine, and transport.
As you will see in the GENERAL AI microcourse, AI systems are powered by algorithms.
You will learn in that course that there are two basic types of algorithms: those that use simple rules, such as "IF (something happens) THEN (do this)"; and those that are much more complicated and that try to learn about how to solve a problem without being told how to solve the problem. This is called machine learning or, sometimes, deep learning.
You probably know how science fiction movies and books show AI: as some kind of robot in movies like Terminator or 2001: A Space Odyssey. And of course, we have our own digital person, Hailey, who you’ll talk to as part of the AI microcourses.
But AI is not just robots or digital people. There are many other examples of how AI is used. We’ll talk about three of them in this microcourse: images, medicine and transport.
Before we start, you should keep in mind one more thing that we will also talk more about the GENERAL AI microcourse.
That’s the difference between trying to build computers and AI that can think, understand, and act in a way that is exactly the same as a human (what is called ‘strong AI’ or ‘general AI’); and building AI that can do specific tasks (what is called ‘weak AI’ or ‘narrow AI’).
This is a really important idea, and you’ll learn more about this when we talk about ideas like the Turing Test in other microcourses.
In this microcourse, we’re going to look at weak AI - AI used for specific things.
There are lots and lots of examples (and many that you can find out about for yourself), but we’ve chosen three: using AI to process and create images; the use of AI in medicine to help diagnose and treat disease, and using AI to help build intelligent transport.
AI BASICS: AI and imagesIS WHAT YOU SEE REALLY WHAT YOU SEE?
Some of the applications of image processing are about recognising faces to confirm someone’s identity or about analysing images to find specific objects or patterns in images.
AI can also be used to improve images so that people can understand them more easily, making it easy to retrieve an image from a large set of images, measuring the size of objects in an image or telling what kinds of things are in an image.
Here’s an example of what AI can do when it is used to process images.
Here you can see classification (what is this?), localisation (where is it?), object detection (what is in this image?) and segmentation (what different things are in this image?) (From Cornell University Computer Vision lectures).
The technology uses high-resolution camera with software which analyses features like blood vessels in the eye. Click the image to read the article on Reuters.
There’s lots to read about how AI is used in processing images.
You can find all about this by searching for yourself, but we’d like to talk about AI and image processing using an example you may have heard of: deepfakes
To get started, read this article from the New York Times
You’ll read in this article how a visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to create videos that really look like Tom Cruise (you can see them here on TikTok)
You’ll also read about the website MyHeritage, which uses AI to digitally animate old photographs to create videos that show people moving their heads and even smiling
Here is an example from the MyHeritage genealogy site showing the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Of course, as you will learn in the AI ETHICS microcourse, this technology can be dangerous as well as entertaining. It might be used to insert people into images or videos who were never originally there, for example, or to create videos of people committing crimes they never committed.
Want to learn more about deepfakes and how they can be used for good or evil? Read this New York Times article.
AI BASICS: AI and MEDICINETHE DOCTOR/AI WILL SEE YOU NOW
A company called WoeBot uses AI in the form of a chatbot that helps people with mental health problems. People are able to chat to Woebot every day and it learns about how they are thinking and suggests things do to improve their mood.
Studies of Woebot suggest that it can be effective in treating depression.
AI BASICS: AI and INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTARE WE THERE YET?
And, as you will learn in the AI ETHICS microcourse, it’s hard to know how to deal with questions about what decisions AI can and should make.