Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a staple of science fiction and cinema for decades now, with one of the most famous early examples being Stanley Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey." It represented the potential - and the possible malice - of AI.
Of course, we can't talk about AI without pointing out that the theme of malice was carried on by such franchises as the Terminator series, in which an AI mechanism called Skynet decided mankind needed elimination and proceeded to attempt the execution thereof. As is Hollywood's wont, this is an extreme example, but there's no doubt that alongside the benefits AI is also seen as a possible threat to humans by taking away their thinking skills, decision-making capabilities and occupations (or very lives.)
Fiction aside, AI has been playing a genuine and beneficial role in technology, ever since IBM's Deep Blue computer, the precursor to their Watson cognitive framework, defeated chess wizard Garry Kasparov. We're now seeing AI in day-to-day interactions with Siri, Apple's personal assistant, which provides information in response to voice commands. It's present in phone systems which listen for human input then route calls accordingly. Aviation relies on it for airport gate selection and simulation strategies. Financial organizations use it to maintain operations, investments and properties. Toy makers have released electronic pets and robots with simple AI capabilities. You can even find AI in space probes which go where humans cannot and make calculations as needed based on programming instructions.
As AI advances, it's become apparent that there are some things machines are better at doing than humans, but humans still have plenty going for them (AI still doesn't possess the deep-thinking skills or planning capacity which can replace experienced workers in complex fields). We're interested in looking at how the two species are going to work in concert to deliver a more powerful future for IT, and the human race, and we have developed this AI survey as a result.
Please share your experiences, observations and views on the subject of AI and how it applies to your organization and career. Respondents will receive a free copy of the resulting research report.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.