Get Smart About Artificial Intelligence: Can You Predict it?

“Que Será, Será, whatever will be, will be, the future I cannot see.”

Despite this line from the oft-repeated tune Que Será, Será written for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 "The Man Who Knew Too Much," people are still obsessed with seeing the future. As you’ve probably predicted, this edition of "Get Smart About Artificial Intelligence" is about predictive analytics—another branch of AI—and how it can be used to solve problems.

Humans are fairly good at operating in environments with incomplete information. We are often able to "fill in the missing pieces" to continue on with our lives. From an early age, we know that placing a finger in a fire or on a hot surface will lead to pain even though we don't understand the science. We have enough intelligence to know that, when crossing the street, a car that is now far away could eventually intersect with our path (something that our mammalian relative deer never seem to grasp) without knowledge of physics. We are able to understand the relationship between the things in our world enough to make it through life.

That ability to understand those relationships and form predictions is another cornerstone of intelligence. With artificial intelligence, we are able to mimic that human ability and apply it at a scale much beyond what the human mind can accomplish.

Our ability to predict manifests itself in two ways:

  1. Filling in the Blanks (or estimating a missing value): Using our knowledge of the relationship between factors to predict one we weren’t explicitly given. i.e. finding a rough estimate for how much gas would cost on a 100-mile road trip
  2. Forecasting (or estimating a future value): Recognizing a historical pattern and using that pattern as well as current data to estimate the future i.e. finding a rough estimate for how much you’ll spend on gas next month

In this week’s video, I’ll cover both sides of prediction and provide an example on how it could be applied to solve real-world challenges.



As always, please let me know what you think in the comments and be sure to subscribe for more content!

If you're new to the series, check out the original blog post "Get Smart about Artificial Intelligence." You can also view the entire video series on YouTube.

Photo: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Craig Vincent

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