Anthony Williams

This quote is from Andrew Ng. He is a Chinese American computer scientist and entrepreneur. According to Wikipedia, he is one of the most influential minds in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning. According to him, the use of Artificial Intelligence will be all pervasive in the future, as is the use of electricity today. His statement puts all of us in a dilemma, that is we need to understand "What is AI?", because like electricity – Al(l) is well until it gets out of control and causes havoc and disruption in our lives. The purpose of this article is to explain in very simple terms what AI actually means for us and how should we understand it before using it or going out and getting an expensive educational degree on the subject or starting our own AI-based startup. In 2008, an article titled "Is Google making us stupid" was published by The Atlantic Magazine, USA. Today, we should be asking "Is Google Intelligent?" Yes, it’s intelligent because it has answers to your general questions; this is "Reactive Intelligence" and No, it’s not intelligent because it can't (Yet) answer your specific questions, which is termed Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Facebook can answer our specific questions since it knows a lot about us and our likes and dislikes etc. And despite the fact that Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny over its use of user data, especially after evidence of Russian interference through advertising during the 2016 US presidential elections was discovered. Is Facebook Intelligent? No, because it’s not built to do that. It’s built to help us connect with people who we want to connect with in real life but are unable to do so because of many reasons. Using Facebook may not help us in finding the meaning of Life, but it can help us connect with people, who give meaning to our lives. WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware and cross-platform messaging and voice over IP service. The application allows sending of text messages and voice calls, as well as video calls, images and other media, documents and user location. And Yes, Facebook owns and operates the world famous and most used WhatsApp app and all the data we share on it. But WhatsApp exists in its own universe and helps us to communicate instantly our thoughts, actions and emotions. It has made possible the building of our own private (digital) world and to populate it with the colours of life, of our own choosing and taste. It’s truly an empowering tool and is directly boosting our "Natural Intelligence".

In order to understand AI, the simplest path would be to think of your own intelligence in terms of having abilities of Google, Facebook and WhatsApp. Just imagine, if you could answer every factual question, you were ever asked. Then think, if you could understand true feelings, emotions and behaviour of people around you all the time. And most importantly, you could communicate all this data and meaning in a beautiful and logical manner at the speed of light to billions of people of this world. You would be crowned as "The Most Intelligent Person in this World" (and maybe in this universe). All this is humanly possible but for specific knowledge domains. A tax consultant can answer all your specific questions to your finances and lifestyle. He/she will have an elegant solution to your taxation problems and so will all the experts, consultants and professionals will have for their domain. This intelligence takes many years of training through education and interacting with the world. Similarly, institutions and organizations spend many millions on developing their own intelligence consisting of collective knowledge and experience of its people and systems. But no one system of General Intelligence System exists in the world. So, by now, it must be realised that AI is not a technology, not a trend, neither a solution to our problem or the reason for the End of the World. It’s a dream that philosophers have had for millenniums; it’s a dream that scientist have dreamt every day and it’s a dream now humanity has for its future. The dream is to make AI an extension of our own intelligence.

"AI is the ability of any system, other than a human, to collect, process and communicate data about a particular person that does not need to utilise that person's own intelligence in arriving at an answer or solution that is as beneficial for that person, as that person's Natural Intelligence (NI) had generated."

The present AI techniques, including machine learning, neural networks, deep learning etc and AI technologies like self-driving cars, robotics and speech-recognition tools etc are taking us towards birth and growing up of machines (systems) possessing Artificial Intelligence and this is what is called "The Age of AI", where machines will possess "Self-awareness" and will make it possible for mankind to enhance its individual and collective intelligence. The electricity of the nature has been tamed by humans, now it’s time to utilise the electricity that powers the human imagination.

The writer is CEO of Tax Dosti and can be reached at