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Future perfect

John McCarthy, who coined the term, defined Artificial Intelligence as ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.’  Recently, intelligent machines – their creators, specifically – have taken leaps and bounds when it comes to meeting humans as equals in terms of processing power and the ability to make informed decisions.solutions

hat was once the stuff of science fiction is fast becoming a reality. In the age of driverless cars and computers that beat us at our own games, it is undeniable that the dream of artificial intelligence is becoming a reality. The use of intelligent systems – that is systems with built-in processors and intelligent code – is only likely to grow in the coming years.  There is hot debate among top IT experts as to what the future of AI will mean for its consumers.

In fact, there are many AI-related technologies already in use today. “AI technologies have long been used across gaming and social networking,” says Tareque Choudhury, Head of Security and BT Advise, Middle East and Africa, BT Global Services, “For instance, in 2015, Facebook announced that their AI Research (FAIR) team have been developing computers that can plan, recognise images, understand language, and learn, all with the aim of building intelligent machines that help people.” Experts predict that by 2025, AI will be built into the functions of a wealth of business and communications functions. In their most positive light, these predictions see AI reducing noise, increasing efficiency and reducing risk.

AI technologies play a huge role in cyber security and that role is only set to increase. AI technologies with advanced mathematical techniques across networks are currently being adopted to better understand the cybersecurity landscape. “Instead of relying on traditional signature and sandbox technologies to detect and block threats, the use of artificial intelligence allows organisations to take a new proactive, intelligence-driven approach to understanding and predicting threats, enabling organisations to stay ahead of the constantly evolving threat landscape,” explains Choudhury.

Though AI is likely to have a positive effect on enterprise security, the technology itself can be seen as a threat. Though he sees primarily beneficial effects of AI, David Emm, Senior Regional Researcher, UK, Global Research & Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab, adds a note of caution. “Regardless of how ‘smart’ a system is, if it can be designed for our benefit, there’s the possibility of someone subverting that design to achieve goals that were not intended. We can already see signs of this in the smart devices that make up the Internet of Things,” he says. “For this reason, it’s vital that security is built in to any computer system at the design stage, not least because trying to retro-fit security after something bad happens is likely to be difficult and expensive.”

AI technology is also set to change the way that we consume information. “Machine learning, the Internet of things and the ability to collect information from sensors is going to explode,” says Sunil Paul, Co-Founder & COO, Finesse. “When Big Data, data visualisation and predictive analytics are used along with the sensor, robotics and AI technologies, both the process and the end product will be smarter. Obviously, AI technology will change the way we look at information, not just about past and present scenarios, but also predict future trends and possibilities. The systems will become more intuitive and will start asking you ‘Are you sure’  ‘How about doing it this way?’”

AI technology has myriad use cases, however, it seems that is may take decades for it to reach its full potential. “It is time we look at AI as much more than just robots,” says Paul. “We have to understand its potential to change human life to make it much smarter and explore how it will imitate how humans think and act – a machine that can perform any intellectual task that a human being can.”

“Take the example of security operations centres that today, struggle to cope with the volumes of events, intelligence and related information they deal with. This means that key information or insight can be lost in the white noise of daily operations. It can be difficult to know where to look for an organisation’s high priority vulnerabilities or threats,” says Choudhury. Using AI technology, security firms can leverage visual analytics to enable teams to find that pertinent data more quickly, and to provide an appropriate automated response.

Once the potential of AI is realised, it is imperative, as end-users that we do not forget our technological past. “One of the potential problems that arise from using technology to perform tasks that were previously done manually, is that we are not psychologically disposed to think about security,” Emm explains. “This is the case today with smartphones. We think of them as phones – not as computer devices that have a security dimension. This is, I believe, one of the key reasons why so few people install security solutions on their smartphones – notwithstanding the alarming growth of mobile malware. I think the more discrete the technology is (i.e. the less apparent it is that it is a computer), the less we focus on security.”

There is the added danger, says Emm, that comes with complacency. Users put their trust into intelligent devices and simply assume that nothing will go wrong. “Last year, Kaspersky Lab highlighted this problem, that we termed ‘digital amnesia’,” he explains. “If we become so dependent on smart devices, we begin to lose the ability to do those tasks for ourselves. This phenomenon is not peculiar to computers, but the process is likely to be accelerated with the digital revolution.”

Artificial Intelligence technologies are already changing the way we consume data, and this shift is only set to continue. As we move forward and see our greatest hopes for the technology come to fruition, we will inevitably see streamlined solutions. However, with these automated responses creators and consumers need to keep a mindful eye on AI technology.

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