One of the first things I read every time artificial intelligence is discussed is that the bots are coming to destroy us all. They may begin as digital kiosks at a taco stand, but cynics fear that they'll end up as HAL. Today, Boston Dynamics was drawn into announcing that their robots were not evil. The internet nevertheless, is in an uproar. "We're dead." wrote one tweet. "Have you even watched Black Mirror?" another exclaimed. It's often discussed as a doomsday scenario, but what if artificial intelligence doesn't have to be that harbinger of destruction? What if artificial intelligence is something that can help us all as we seek to master the un-masterable?
Obviously there's a little bit of tongue in cheek there. We all know AI can and should be helpful, but I've read so many takes recently fearing the takeover of the machines, some even encouraging readers to move to a cabin in the wilderness in a state like Montana before having their life force imbibed by Matrix-style robots. I think maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. Artificial intelligence is incredibly important, of course, but there are uses for it that maybe haven't been considered thoroughly enough. Specifically, artificial intelligence can help us tame the wild frontier of dark data.
Part of the great difficulty of dealing with dark data is understanding it, and measuring it into useful metrics. When you're dealing with a couple of megabytes worth of storage on a jump drive, it's easy to manage. When you're dealing with petabytes of data across several servers, it gets more complicated. This is where the usefulness of AI enters the picture. AI by nature can process troves of information that would simply be impossible for a human or even many humans to process. It can tag what's useful and quickly recall information at a speed that just isn't feasible otherwise. This can allow business owners to classify what's valuable and what isn't, giving them the opportunity to either employ the data as an asset, or defensibly delete it.
This isn't just automation, as you may initially think. Rather, AI can also aid us in establishing the value of data that we can't value ourselves. It makes digesting things easier, and can help us determine uses that we otherwise couldn't. It can also monitor the behavior used in the creation of that data to optimize and improve data usage from its inception. These are incredible advantages that couldn't be leveraged otherwise. This is where AI goes further than automation. AI automates the process and then augments it.
Using AI as a tool is obviously not an uncommon idea. Everyone in the industry realizes this. That doesn't diminish the importance of its use though, or the fact that AI can do more than we think, especially in the field of dark data. Artificial intelligence has given us the ability to formulate solutions that were previously unreachable. Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, and am simply delaying the inevitable rise of the machines, but until then, I'd rather consider how AI can help us, rather than how it can kill us.