Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the big buzz words in the tech industry. From robots to self-driving cars, digital twins and medical diagnosis, AI promises to deliver innovation on the scale of the discovery of fire and electricity, as one Silicon Valley chief executive officer (CEO) has put it. While it is not yet clear if this is truth or hyperbole, technical advances are coming rapidly.

The term artificial intelligence is generally understood to refer to a machine that can replicate cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving. It is a broad concept that encapsulates ideas ranging from Frankenstein-like robots to voice assistants for smart phones and other devices.

AI depends on the gathering, analysis and sharing of great volumes of data which are exchanged between applications. Machine learning algorithms enable the data to be processed and interpreted to provide patterns on which to base a prediction. Deep learning is the most recent AI technique to find real world applications. It mirrors the neural networks of the human brain to create transistor connections that can be strengthened or weakened depending on whether the data is interpreted correctly. As new data is received, the machine is trained automatically to perfect its predictions. As a result, machines are now able to recognize and respond to images and voices as well as to beat human competitors in games such as chess and Go.

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