Future Forward with AI: “Can machines think?”

May 9, 2022

To the layperson, AI brings to mind gaming, the metaverse and Star Trek’s “Data.” To those in the know, it’s way more complex, a powerful branch of computing that now influences almost every aspect of our lives.

Yet, according to this Dell Technologies technical whitepaper, it all began with the question: Can machines think? We learn that the term ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) dates back to the very first days of computers. The phrase itself originated in 1956 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. In 2022, we’re very familiar with the expression, which has found its way into much of our daily lives. Who among us can honestly say they have never heard of algorithms, robots, and smart technologies?

AI is an extensive branch of computing related to building smart machines capable of executing tasks that generally require human intelligence. With gradual and recent advances in technology, data storage and computing power, AI systems have shaped into a multi‑billion‑dollar industry. AI has the potential to affect pretty much the entire tech industry, bringing substantial innovation and economic growth. Organizations are now adopting AI for common functional areas:

  • Human resources: AI for talent acquisition.
  • IT: AI for cybersecurity.
  • Manufacturing: AI for smart operations.
  • Healthcare: AI for clinical diagnosis and AI‑assisted robotic surgery.

There’s a lot more to it, of course. AI and its associated models Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) make up a vast field of study that involves advanced and complex processes, and the field includes many theories, methods, and technologies.

The Benefits of AI

Science fiction aside, thanks to advances in technology, AI has become a reality and is evolving rapidly, benefiting, and integrating into organizations, industries, professions, businesses of all kinds and almost everything we do. Here are just a few of the areas that employ AI:

  • Data management
  • Manufacturing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Diagnosing diseases
  • Education

AI can also be used to: reduce job hazards in the workplace; predict natural disasters; preserve environmental resources; and aid the criminal justice system. AI machines are highly efficient, execute quickly, save time and money by automating routine processes, increase revenue by identifying and maximizing sales opportunities, and make faster business decisions based on cognitive technology outputs. They are also available 24×7, error-free, forecast accurately, and can result in increased productivity, operational efficiencies, and optimal distribution of resources.

Hardware and Software Considerations

High-performance computing (HPC) resources are generally required for AI since significant computing and storage hardware is needed to support its complex functions. Someone with an extensive understanding of the expected outcome is needed to choose the right hardware and software.

Regular computing systems can handle basic AI workloads, but for larger tasks involving multiple large data sets and scalable neural networks, more computing capacity and density is required. For this, hardware accelerators are needed, such as a high-performance GPU (graphics processing unit) with thousands of cores and high-memory bandwidth that can process multiple computations accurately and efficiently.

Servers with hardware accelerators have transformed computing for AI, ML, and DL. GPUs and field programming gate arrays (FPGAs) are the most cost-effective hardware accelerators. Compared to CPUs, GPUs are cheaper and offer higher performance, and today’s servers support from one to tens of single‑width or double‑width GPUs and FPGAs.

Exponential Market Value and Applications

Globally, AI has an approximate market value of US $40 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38–45% from 2020 to 2027.

Continuous research and innovation are driving the adoption of advanced technologies in industry verticals. Drivers responsible for this include: the rapid increase in the number of connected devices; the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT); the enhancing of customer experience; the rapid increase in requirements for cloud‑based applications and services; the growing need to analyze and interpret large amounts of data; and the increase in the adoption of intelligent virtual applications.

AI has dramatically changed the business landscape, and its applications are endless. AI technology and applications have significantly evolved over the past few years and are applied in many different sectors and industries to maximize output on the operational front.

AI Is the Future—At Least for Now!

AI is the future and is attracting growing amounts of corporate investment. As the technology develops and the potential increases, AI is being adopted by public and private organizations alike, is already impacting the way enterprises engage with customers, and will fundamentally redefine how we work. AI is one of the most powerful technologies invented, offering the ability to learn autonomously and to exceed human capabilities.

So, can machines think?

What do you think?

Read more about Dell Technologies and AI here

Written by Jane Pratt

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