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Artificial Intelligence: What Is It and Why It Matters

By Sunita Arnold, Jun 4, 2023

Image depicting what Artificial intelligence is and why it matters

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? At its core, AI refers to the development of intelligent machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. In an age where the unimaginable is within our grasp, the emergence of AI has profoundly impacted our world. AI, with its remarkable capabilities, has become an integral part of our daily lives. It fuels our smartphones, empowers our smart home devices, enables autonomous vehicles, and even guides strategic financial choices. AI is not just everywhere – it’s actively sculpting the shape of our future. 

A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence 

In the summer of 1956, the term “Artificial Intelligence” was coined at the Dartmouth Conference, igniting a quest to create thinking machines. A group of brilliant minds gathered to explore the realm of machine intelligence, sparked by the audacious idea that we could create machines that think like humans.  In the early days, optimism soared as pioneers like Allen Newell and John McCarthy paved the way for AI research.  They dreamed of machines that could solve complex problems, understand natural language, and even mimic human creativity.  They soon realized that these lofty aspirations were more challenging than they initially thought. 

Over the years, researchers explored symbolic AI in the 1960s and faced challenges in capturing human cognition. However, the rise of machine learning in the 1980s, driven by computing power and data, brought new hope. Fast forward to the 21st century, and AI became an unstoppable force, permeating our lives in ways we never thought possible. Smartphones became our trusted companions, understanding our voice commands and anticipating our needs. Autonomous vehicles navigated the streets with increasing precision, challenging our notions of what’s possible. AI transformed industries, from healthcare to finance, revolutionizing the way we tackle problems and make decisions. 

Today, AI continues to evolve at an astonishing pace. Deep learning algorithms, inspired by the human brain, have pushed the boundaries of what machines can comprehend and achieve. We stand on the precipice of a future where AI promises to revolutionize every aspect of our existence, from enhancing our creativity to solving global challenges. 

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How Does AI Work? 

In simple terms, artificial intelligence is a way for computers to mimic human thinking. It uses certain rules, known as algorithms, which allow the computer to learn from data, a process known as machine learning. This way, the computer can do things usually done by humans like recognizing faces or suggesting songs you might like. By using a lot of data and spotting patterns in it, these computers can get really good at these tasks. 

What are the 4 Types of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? 

Artificial intelligence can be categorized into four types.  These categories broadly capture the current understanding and potential progression of AI systems: 

Reactive Machines 

The most basic type of AI, operates without past memory, responding to inputs with specific outputs based solely on the current state. For instance, Google’s AlphaGo, which defeated Go world champion Lee Sedol in 2016, used this approach, making each move without any memory of past games beyond its training data. 

Limited Memory 

This type of AI includes machines that can learn from historical data to make decisions. However, the length of the ‘memory’ is short-lived and not permanent. An example of this type of AI would be self-driving cars that can observe the behavior of other vehicles over a period of time to make better decisions. 

Theory of Mind 

This is a more advanced type of AI that doesn’t yet exist. Theory of Mind AI is proposed to have its understanding and beliefs about the world, entities, emotions, and the ability to interact socially like humans. 


This is the ultimate stage of AI development. These types of AI systems are not only aware of the world around them but also have consciousness and emotions. They would understand, interpret, predict human emotions and act accordingly.

“AI transformed industries, from healthcare to finance, revolutionizing the way we tackle problems and make decisions.” 

Benefits of AI  

The capabilities of AI stretch beyond the traditional boundaries of human intellect, driving efficiencies and creating new possibilities across diverse sectors. It touches everything from our day-to-day tasks to complex problem-solving in various industries. While the evolution of AI continues at a swift pace, let’s take a moment to understand and appreciate some of its significant benefits: 

Improving Efficiency and Productivity  

AI can automate repetitive tasks, allowing humans to focus on more complex and creative tasks. This improves productivity across various industries. 

Enhancing Decision Making  

AI can analyze vast amounts of data and provide insights or recommendations. This enhances decision-making processes in business, healthcare, finance, and many other fields. 

Enhancing Decision Making  

AI can analyze vast amounts of data and provide insights or recommendations. This enhances decision-making processes in business, healthcare, finance, and many other fields. 


AI’s ability to learn from data allows for more personalized experiences. Examples include personalized recommendations on streaming services, targeted advertising, or tailored learning programs. 

Enhanced Accessibility 

AI can assist people with disabilities through tools such as voice-to-text, predictive text, or image recognition software. 

Research and Development  

AI can accelerate scientific research by predicting outcomes, analyzing complex data, and simulating experiments. 

While the benefits of AI are significant, it’s also important to remember that there are challenges and ethical considerations. We need to be mindful of these as we continue to develop and integrate AI technology into our lives. 

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Examples of AI Technology and How It is Used Today 

From simple everyday tasks to complex scientific and business challenges, AI technology is being adopted across various sectors. Here are some examples: 

Smart Home Devices 

AI tech such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod have revolutionized our home life. They can control the lighting, heating, and security systems in our houses based on our voice commands. They also answer questions, set reminders, and even order groceries. 

Self-Driving Cars 

Companies like Tesla and Waymo are pioneering AI tech in the form of autonomous vehicles. These cars can recognize traffic signals, detect obstacles, and navigate routes without human input, making our commutes more relaxed and safer. 

Recommendation Systems  

Have you ever wondered how Netflix or Spotify seem to know what you’d like to watch or listen to next? They use AI-powered recommendation algorithms to analyze your past behavior and preferences, making entertainment a more personalized experience. 

Predictive Text and Voice Recognition  

Autocomplete in Google Search or dictation on your smartphone uses AI to predict what you’re going to type or say next. It learns from the way you speak or type, making digital communication easier and faster. 

Social Media Algorithms 

Ever notice how Facebook or Instagram always show you posts that you’re interested in? They use AI algorithms to analyze your behavior, likes, shares, and comments to tailor your feed, keeping you engaged and connected. 

These are just a few examples. The potential for AI applications is vast and continues to shape various aspects of our lives, from work and play to how we communicate and even how we perceive the world. 

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Challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

AI is an exciting field that holds great promise, but like any technology, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Here are some of the most significant: 


AI systems are trained on data created by humans, and they can inadvertently learn and replicate human biases present in this data. This can lead to discrimination or unfair practices, especially in sensitive areas like hiring or lending. 

Transparency and Explainability 

AI systems, especially those based on deep learning, can be incredibly complex and opaque – often referred to as “black boxes.” It can be challenging to understand why they’ve made a particular decision, which is problematic in high-stakes situations like healthcare or legal decisions. 

Privacy Concerns  

AI often requires large amounts of data, which can involve sensitive personal information. There’s a fine balance between leveraging data to improve AI systems and protecting individual privacy. 

Job Displacement 

AI has the potential to automate many tasks currently performed by humans, leading to concerns about job displacement and the future of work. 


AI systems can be used maliciously, such as in deepfakes or automated hacking attempts. They could also become targets of attacks, with potentially serious consequences if the AI is in control of critical systems. 

These challenges are significant, but they’re also the focus of a lot of ongoing research and discussion. By acknowledging and addressing these issues, we can strive for a future where AI is used responsibly and to the benefit of all. 

The Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While the future of AI is still being shaped and is somewhat uncertain, we can anticipate several trends based on current research directions and the needs of society. Keep in mind, predicting the future is no exact science, and these developments are anticipated based on our current understanding and expectations. Here are some examples:  

Human-AI Collaboration 

AI is expected to become more of a collaborator than a tool. Rather than replacing human jobs, AI is likely to augment human capabilities, helping us make more informed decisions and perform tasks more efficiently. We’re moving towards a future where human and AI cooperation is commonplace. 

Personalized AI 

The future of AI will also likely be more personalized, with systems designed to adapt to individual users’ needs. This could mean AI tutors that adapt to a student’s learning style, or health AIs that adjust to a person’s unique physiology. 

Ethics and Regulation

As AI becomes more influential, we’ll likely see a greater focus on AI ethics and regulation. This could involve ensuring AI systems are used responsibly, don’t reinforce existing biases, and respect privacy. We may see the development of universal ethical guidelines or standards for AI. 

Democratization of AI  

AI tools are becoming more accessible, meaning more people can create and apply AI in their work, irrespective of their technical background. This trend is likely to continue, opening up AI to a more diverse range of users. 

Advanced Natural Language Processing

AI’s language understanding capabilities will continue to improve. We may see more advanced dialogue systems, more accurate translation tools, and AI that can generate even more creative, human-like text. 


The story of AI is an evolving tapestry of human curiosity, ingenuity, and ambition. From symbolic AI to machine learning and deep learning, we have embarked on a remarkable journey of discovery and innovation. The benefits are evident in numerous aspects of our lives and society, but so too are the challenges that demand our careful attention. As we steer the narrative of AI’s future, it is our responsibility to create a harmony between technological advancement and the preservation of human values. After all, the essence of AI is not just about creating intelligent machines, but about enhancing human life, and creating a world that reflects our highest ideals and aspirations. 

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Sunita Arnold

Sunita Arnold

As Director of Content Strategy at Linqto, Sunita deftly merges creative and strategic planning. Guiding a talented team, she aligns content with marketing objectives to deliver compelling, brand-consistent materials. Her diverse 15+ year career spans fintech, healthcare, and public relations, with highlights including managing investor relations for an alternate investment platform, steering business development in a leading PR firm's sports and entertainment sectors, and overseeing operations for a wealth management data service. Her past achievements include significantly contributing to the growth and efficiency of a top global fund administrator. Keeping pace with industry trends, Sunita applies her strategic acumen and market insight to advance Linqto's content strategy.