Over the past twenty-five years and more, I’ve heard a lot about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These technologies represent ideas that were traditionally about how computers could take on intelligent behavior, and how they could help people by automating and performing their routine tasks. Over time, progress in developing AI systems was rather slow, but recent advances have breathed new life into research and investment in these technologies. Big Data, in particular, has become a major topic of discussion in recent years, and AI and machine learning technologies are the premier tools geared toward mining large data sets to figure out what they mean, and how to manipulate them to achieve a more advanced purpose.

The impact of AI and machine learning on society and our daily lives will undoubtedly grow, but that growth and impact will look very different than what I imagined when I first thought of these technologies. People and machines are now generating and sharing so much data that we need help to understand what it’s all about.

It is time for AI and machine learning to become a large piece of the puzzle, and we are starting to see some of their benefits now.  AI plays a key role in autonomous driving, unmanned aerial aircraft (UAVs), and huge numbers of systems that deal with traffic control, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, and probably every industry I could think of. However, we will encounter dangers, too – we will need to be careful about how AI and machine learning systems mine and manipulate information that should be kept confidential (such as personal identifiable information, or PII); and we may need to review the conclusions that automated systems could reach when crunching big data sets, before they are published to the world, to avoid potential political or social concerns.

AI and machine learning will change and revolutionize our lives, but we are still at the cusp of that revolution, and it will take time to see what the next major tranformations will look like. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how advancements and development will look in the months and years to come, and I hope to be a part of the revolution.