AI: From sci-fi to the real world

This is a big – no, huge – year for AI, with a combination of major-name launches, brand uptake and consumer awareness making it less sci-fi, more real-world. AI slammed into the public consciousness in March with Microsoft’s disastrous release of Twitter chatbot Tay. This innocent program was corrupted within hours of its introduction after it listened in and automatically learned to discuss what users were talking about. Like the new kid trying to out-gross the school bullies, Tay let loose with racist, sexist chat. Microsoft is trying again, as chief executive Satya Nadella says “bots are the new apps”. Facebook is also taking a deep dive into new-generation chatbots. Then there are Google’s Assistant and Home, Amazon’s Echo, and developments with Siri, Cortana and Alexa. Yet such examples distract…

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