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Level Blog

5 min read

‘What is AI?’ and other questions answered

Nov 9, 2018 12:59:00 PM

As a member of the marketing team at Level Global, I spend an almost unreasonable amount of time combing Google search results for news and views on the ever-changing AI landscape.

Alongside every article about Elon Musk’s quest to stop the “AI apocalypse” and report of newly created AI news anchors is a whole lot of confusion. It seems that, despite all the hype, nobody actually knows what AI is or what it’s for! Luckily, I’m here to answer some of your most pressing questions about AI (as told by Google’s autocompleted search suggestions):


What is AI?

A quick Google search reveals numerous – and often conflicting – answers to this question. With the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI has become the “next big thing”, and everything from chatbots, email spam filters and video game characters through to advanced facial recognition, disease detection and humanoid robots now seems to fall under the AI umbrella. It really does depend on who you speak to, which isn’t overly helpful when you’re trying to figure out which technology is right for you.

In my opinion, the most useful definition of AI is the one found in the Oxford Living English Dictionary, and the one that we at Level Global adhere to:

AI is a computer system that is “able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

It’s a fairly broad definition, but the concept of human intelligence (as opposed to “intelligence” in general, which is very hard to define) is key here. The ultimate goal of an AI is to perform a task as well as – or better than – a human by emulating the way our brains work. Without that, a system is nothing more than an automaton: useful, but very limited in its application.

What are the differences between each type of AI?

There are hundreds of different types of AI in existence today, and even more theories and concepts being developed in university computer science departments all over the world. There are so many, in fact, that I can’t list them all – but, when looking at it from a business perspective, the list does become a little bit more manageable.

The three main types of AI being discussed in the business world at the moment are machine learning, cognitive artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, all of which are often used interchangeably despite referring to different things. Don’t get caught in the confusion: take a look at the table below to really get to grips with the differences between each technology:

Machine Learning 
Cognitive Artificial Intelligence 
Robotic Process Automation 
Learns and improves over time Emulates human decision-making process Performs sequences of human-like behaviour  
Data-based Data and rules-based Rules-based  
Given appropriate data, can adapt to perform any task  Given appropriate data, can perform multiple tasks at once  Each “bot” performs one task  
Must be trained by humans but continues learning and improving after training period Decides on best sequence of events based on available data Sequence of events must be programmed by human  
Multiple algorithms & training datasets required to perform concurrent tasks (unless it “learns” to do otherwise!) Can perform any number of tasks at one time Multiple “bots” required to perform concurrent tasks


Which type of AI is the best?

The answer to this question depends entirely on who you are and what you’re hoping to achieve. Do you want to automate your home or create a conversational companion? Do you want to build a self-driving car? Do you want to improve productivity in the workplace?

No AI is inherently better than any other – just like the computers they’re built with, they are simply tools that we can use to achieve a goal. AI can help you achieve almost anything – the only limit is your imagination!

Will AI take over the world / take my job / replace humans?

Our first simple answer – no. What we see in sci-fi movies is far from reality – AI is definitely not a single unified force bent on world domination!

As for taking jobs and replacing humans…that issue is a little more delicate. I personally don’t believe that AI will replace humans in the sense that most people believe – mass unemployment and suffering as Sophia and all of her friends take our office jobs is probably not on the cards. What I do believe will happen is a fundamental change in the work that we do, and in how we do that work. At Level Global at least, the ultimate goal is a future in which humans and AI work together to make those human lives a little bit more fulfilling.

How can AI help my business?

The most important element of your business is your employees – take care of your people and your organization will look after itself. Don’t and, well…you know what happens next.

With that in mind, there are a number of different ways you could use AI to improve the workplace for your employees. Depending on your business needs, anything from virtual assistants to data entry automation to augmented decision making can bring a huge number of benefits.

For example, at Level Global, we specialize in providing tangible benefits to productivity, process efficiency, employee well-being and customer satisfaction through the use of Cognitive Intelligence (CI). Our CI apps emulate human decision making, streamlining everyday processes in all areas of the business and removing human error without removing the human.

AI frees your people from the mundane, robotic tasks that they have to perform every day and enables them to really challenge themselves, doing more important work and providing more value to the business.

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Deven Fosberry
Written by Deven Fosberry

Deven is a Marketing executive at Level.