Top 5: Things AI might actually be good for

It's easy to dismiss AI as a buzz phrase or just a marketing term, and in some cases it is. But here are five situations where AI can be helpful.

Top 5: Things AI might actually be good for

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly mocked as being used as a marketing term. But AI is also being used to create some legitimately useful tools. So, to beat back some of the less useful uses of the term, here are five things AI might actually be good for:

1. Farming

FarmLogs is an example of complex data analysis that tracks weather, soil conditions, historical satellite imagery and helps farmers determine what kind of plant growth to expect and how to maximize crop yields.

SEE: Farming for the future: How one company uses big data to maximize yields and minimize impact (TechRepublic)

2. Medical diagnosis

Watson made this use of AI famous, and while you can debate its effectiveness, others like Intel are working on things like precision medicine. Machine learning can compare molecular tests with previous cases to customize treatments. Computer interpretation of medical images as an aid to diagnosis is also making rapid advances.

SEE: Beware AI's magical promises, as seen in IBM Watson's underwhelming cancer play (TechRepublic)

3. Stopping predators

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is experimenting with AI to help automate and speed up scanning websites for suspicious content.

SEE: IT leader's guide to deep learning (Tech Pro Research)

4. Recruiting

AI can help sort through resumes and rank candidates. Unilever used an AI called HireVue to analyze candidates' answers body language and tone, cutting down time to hire and increasing offers and acceptance rates.

SEE: How to implement AI and machine learning (ZDNet) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

5. Customer service

AI assistants were made famous by smartphones, but where they really shine is providing assistance to human customer service agents. AI can be used to process natural language and route people to the right agent and even listen in and prompt agents with queries and responses.

We didn't even include autonomous cars, which use all kinds of machine learning and types of AI to interpret sensors. And there are loads more. There's a lot of fog around the idea of AI these days, but if you look closely you can see some pretty good examples of the real thing.

Also see:

Image: iStock/scyther5