Humankind has grown intellectually leaps and bounds over the last few decades. We call ourselves homosapiens — wise men — and believe that our intelligence is of prime significance. Our concern and curiosity to understand how we think, perceive, understand and act has been massive.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) attempts to comprehend intelligent entities and build them. AI is responsible to build machines which have simulated intelligence; these machines are programmed to “think" like a human and mimic the way a person acts. The goals of AI are to learn reasoning and perception and implement these on machines using mathematics, computer science, linguistics, psychology etc.
Stephen Hawking once said, “Every aspect of our lives will be transformed [by AI],” and it could be “the biggest event in the history of our civilization.”
According to the United Nations, corporations have invested between $20-30 billion globally in 2016 on ‘research and development’ and acquisitions of AI. Organizations in every sector are investing in AI tools and techniques to boost their businesses. Startups are sprinting to develop AI chips for data centers, smartphones, robotics, drones, and other devices. Tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft account for more than three-quarters of total AI investment to-date.
Artificial Intelligence is currently at initial stages of development, yet some exciting products have been produced. Google’s DeepMind is an AI network that can make connections and reach meaning without depending on pre-defined algorithm. DeepMind applications learn with every interaction and get smarter and more aware, leading towards the enhancement of their capabilities and knowledge.
“Every aspect of our lives will be transformed [by AI],” and it could be “the biggest event in the history of our civilization.” — Stephen Hawking
Artificial Intelligence is affecting our decisions and our lifestyles every day. AI has already revolutionized our lives. Smartphones in this era have become the most indispensable tech product. We as smartphone users are interacting with AI all the time with some features such as the built-in smart assistants to not so obvious ones such as the portrait mode in cameras. Most of us have already heard and read about Smart Cars, which again is a result of AI. Tesla has manufactured one such car. Tesla cars are connected virtually and share whatever they learn across all vehicles. Imagine that you had to take an unexpected hard-turn at a crossroads; all Tesla cars will know how to maneuver that turn after they are updated and the knowledge is shared among all vehicles.
All our decisions today are being impacted by artificial intelligence. This is due to the high usage of Social Media apps. AI captures and analyses all our past behavior, web searches, interactions, and everything else that we do when we are using these apps to tailor our user experience. AI has been effectively used by all the social media apps to make these networks addictive, hence ensuring there is no going back for the users.
Smart Homes, Navigators, Virtual Assistants, Text Analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are a few other widely used Artificial Intelligence technologies in daily lives.
Artificial Intelligence has intervened in the health care sector to analyze relationships between prevention and treatment techniques and patient outcomes. A startup company Sense.ly has developed Molly, a digital nurse to help people monitor the patient’s condition and follow up with treatments, between doctor visits. This application uses machine learning to support patients, specializing in chronic illnesses. In 2016, Boston Children’s Hospital developed an app for Amazon Alexa that gives necessary health information and advice for parents of sick children. The app answers the questions asked about medications and whether symptoms require a doctor visit.
In 2016, Pakistan’s first ever National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) was approved by Central Development Working Party (CDWP), under the Ministry of Planning and Development’s Vision 2025. NCAI is set to be a consortium of eight labs across several universities with four computing clusters, have its very own Competitive Research Fund open to all Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers and universities.
Recently in 2018, the government has allocated Rs1.1 billion for a period of three years to initiate a project on Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Yasir Ayaz from National University of Science and Technology (NUST) is heading this project. As per the project’s plan, each university will build and equip labs for this project and offer Masters and Ph.D programs in these fields. A total of 36 Ph.D doctors from the relevant areas will be working with these labs.
Under the supervision of Higher Education Commission (HEC), six universities including, NUST, Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) University, NED University of Engineering and Technology, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore and University of Punjab, have been selected to work on this initiative.
NUST serves as the Headquarters of this initiative and has set up two labs for Deep Learning and Intelligent Robotics. Likewise, NED UET will build Smart City and Neuro Computation Labs, CIIT University will set up Medical Imaging and Diagnostic Lab, UET Lahore will set up an Intelligent Criminology Lab, and Punjab University will establish an Agent-Based Computational Modeling Lab. Pakistan’s Information Technology industry has demonstrated positive growth trends for the last five years. During 2016-17, Pakistan’s IT exports were $3.3 billion, which have climbed to $5 billion and are expected to grow to $6 billion in the coming years. IT is the fastest growing sector of Pakistan, which has tremendous opportunities for further development. In the 38th meeting of the Board of Directors of Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), the Minister of State for Information Technology indicated that Pakistan’s IT industry has been multiplying at a rate of 150% over the last five years.
In the next few years, if we have proper funding from the private companies for research and development, Pakistan can develop the required infrastructure and workforce for Artificial Intelligence. If our AI initiatives work well and are presented internationally, investments from international firms can come to further develop the industry. HH
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