Can Artificial Intelligence see, think, and act? It depends

4 min

Critical reasoning, the ability to argue answers, creativity are human faculties that need a cognitive approach. Can we find these abilities in Artificial Intelligence? Currently not, but thanks to technologies, software, and algorithms, we can enhance our skills and reduce our daily workload. Here’s how Artificial Intelligence can see, think and act.

The rationality of Artificial Intelligence

Words, thought, and action are concepts that, in Artificial Intelligence, belong to the reasoning sphere more than to the emotional one. When we talk about a probabilistic system, we have to imagine software that, so programmed, could interpret our emotions. But feelings cannot be translated into bits and bytes. So what are we referring to when we use words so similar to human abilities? We find the answer in the infographic.

Artificial Intelligence senses

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The ability of Artificial Intelligence

The ability to Hear

Can Artificial Intelligence listen and respond using our language? Yes, thanks to software that can understand natural language and thanks to technologies that allow the recording of sounds. However, this does not mean that it will be able to provide us with answers other than those built into the software’s programming.

Here’s an example. Alexa, Amazon’s virtual voice assistant, contains AI-powered software that can provide preset answers, do online searches, and read the text in the chosen language. If the user asks similar questions, Alexa will be able to give a number of different but still limited answers because they will depend on the variables chosen in the programming phase.

The ability to See

And more, can Artificial Intelligence see? It depends. The ability to record images and turn a physical space into a digital one is the closest virtual aspect to human sight. These abilities fall under computer vision and are applied through technologies such as video surveillance.

In fact, if we want to be alerted in case of a suspicious intrusion, simple recording is not enough. Not even an alarm that triggers every movement can help us as it generates false alarms. With AI, however, neural networks detect movements in the surrounding environment and create patterns that identify danger. These, used as filters, allow distinguishing human movements from other irrelevant movements. The same technology, installed in the woods and forests, saves flora and fauna with cameras that detect smoke and set off alarms.

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The ability to Think

How does Artificial Intelligence emulate human thinking? Through neural networks and the use of algorithms typical of deep learning. However, we are still far from obtaining a result as complex as that resulting from human reasoning.

Critical thinking is one of the most complex human faculties because it implies the awareness of oneself and the surrounding world. Reasoning, in fact, is a process that goes beyond sense-perception and space-time limits. Translating this into data is not easy.

Here is an example related to a concrete activity. Let’s imagine that the executive wants to monitor the workday of a member of his team to understand how to improve business performance. To do this, he’ll use Time Sheet software that leverages Artificial Intelligence, and at the same time, he’ll ask the employee to take personal notes of activities and times. At the end of the day, he will summon the employee and ask for an oral report. At that time, the manager will have two outputs: the software report and the employee’s report. Comparing the two versions will reveal differences. Why? Simple, because the data collected only describes actions and timing and does not contain the added value of interpretation and cognitive analysis. In contrast, the employee’s annotated account is constructive because it expresses a point of view based on experience, assumptions, and therefore critical reasoning.

Artificial Intelligence simulated reasoning works like deductive thinking introduced by Aristotle:
“All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.”

In this sentence, you will start from true premises and true rules and get the correct result. In the case of AI, if I enter verified data and train the software correctly, I will get exact results.

AI is based on a probabilistic system and a computational model. The probability of correct answers increases as more data is entered and as the training path improves.

I can then use AI to simulate the following cognitive activities:

  • Schedule or plan actions such as those of operating and maintaining machinery.
  • Graphically represent data resulting from simple reasoning. The data analysis implemented by the marketing department with specific software is a perfect example of how time and resources are optimized with AI.

Artificial Intelligence can see, hear and act by simulating human capabilities but only up to a point. Share on X

The ability to Act

What does Artificial Intelligence actually do? In companies, the combination of Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) generates a radical change. It improves process efficiency, optimizes time and resources, and reduces the risk of human error.

The result of the actions required of a software equipped with Artificial Intelligence can be of the following type:

  • descriptive: it scans and lists a series of actions, documents, and/or data in general;
  • predictive: it predicts what might happen in a medium to long time based on the data it analyzes;
  • prescriptive: starting from standard models related to the activity I want to analyze, the software can tell you what could still be done to improve performance.

Digitizing the entire business system with the use of programs that leverage automation and AI allows, for example, to:

  • achieve constant interaction between departments working on the same process but at different stages;
  • automate activities that required dedicated resources and high timescales, as well as the risk of making mistakes in repetition;
  • get answers from processing huge amounts of complex data to manage.

In the era of Digital Transformation, it is important to be aware of the potential that AI and automation offer without confusing them with the power of human abilities to feel, act and think. The suggestion is to look at digital as a set of indispensable tools to grow business and further enhance our cognitive capabilities.