Artificial intelligence: an omnipresent wonder tech

“Are all electronics becoming artificial intelligence?” There’s a question you’ve probably been asking yourself a lot. This famous “AI” has been dominating the scientific scene, and also the media scene, for some time. You may have asked it too!

Poppy torso : curiosity driven learning © Inria / Photo C. Morel

It’s right on trend. It’s revered. It’s envied. It’s feared. It’s true that it’s a bit intimidating: the ease with which it reads our faces, makes conversation with us, answers our questions and thinks for us. Its omnipresence is causing confusion: are all electronics becoming artificial intelligence? No, retort the scientists. Slightly less clever algorithms are perfectly capable opening garage doors and running GPS. Boolean algebra, the sieve of Eratosthenes and other Monte Carlo methods.

ADT PosTex Project: smart fabric and smart jacket © Inria / Photo C. Morel


So where do we draw the line? AI = deep learning + big data, responds one researcher, formulating a more restrictive definition. Boosted by supercomputing architectures, neural networks develop the ability for machine learning using large volumes of data. Playing with this cognitive capacity, AI is creeping into every nook and cranny of our connected lives. At the office, where it sorts the post. On the Internet, where it presents our future friends, recommends reading and suggests purchases. In our smartphones, where it retouches our selfies and acts as translator. In our video games. In calculating our insurance premiums. And of course in our cars, where it’s preparing to take the wheel.

What’s next? A trip to the cinema. It can’t understand the whole film. But it tries. We call that artificial curiosity.

Jean-Michel Prima / Inria