It seems that, for years, artificial intelligence has been one step away from a big break. It has been a consistent topic of conversation for years but hasn’t quite lived up to its potential. Or so that was the case before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.

If you are unfamiliar with artificial intelligence, think of it as technology, like computers, imitating humans. AI is based on computer science research and uses massive amounts of information to recognize patterns. AI then uses those patterns to anticipate the needs of users. What makes AI especially impressive is its ability to continually get better at recognizing patterns, even when not specifically set up to do so.

Millions of people around the world found themselves spending more time at home. Technology executives were confronted with the need to reconstruct business operations to accommodate a work-from-home environment. Businesses that had rarely, if ever, operated remotely, were forced to make adjustments. Suddenly, artificial intelligence was catapulted into the realm of necessity.

Artificial Intelligence & Working from Home

Automation has become exponentially more useful for businesses and industries that have had to switch to remote working. Automated systems helped workers manage schedules and productivity, filter emails, and tackle IT issues from afar. Automation is also responsible for many functions that are critical to businesses, but less visible during day-to-day operations.

With so many processes difficult to manage from a distance, AI dramatically reduces the time and effort required for each one. The technology allows people to stay just as connected remotely as they would if they were sitting in an office.

One unique way many remote workers are using AI to their advantage is with the San Francisco-based startup Grammarly. Grammarly uses an AI language checker that, in addition to correcting spelling and grammar, gives users suggestions based on voice and clarity. With Grammarly, you can make sure that any email, text, or another message you send is communicated in the way you want. This allows users to avoid communication issues that would otherwise arise when face-to-face isn’t an option.

AI is also responsible for ensuring businesses are protected from fraud during online transactions. Many small businesses use Square, a credit card processor that uses AI to prevent fraudulent transactions. Large companies, like MasterCard, have recognized the value of using AI for fraud protection. In a 2016 press release, MasterCard revealed that they use AI as a way to minimize the chance your card will be declined because of suspected fraud, while maximizing the chance that someone else won’t be able to fraudulently charge it.

Artificial Intelligence for Personal Use

Artificial intelligence has also made a significant impact on people’s personal lives. Likely, you have already used artificial intelligence in your personal life without realizing it.

One of the most recognizable uses of artificial intelligence is for smart personal assistants. Millions of people across the globe became familiar with Siri, a simpler smart personal assistant that you can access with your smartphone. Through Siri, you can perform internet searches, set reminders, and more.

Amazon then expanded that idea with the release of their line of smart personal assistants. The Amazon Alexa and Echo (also known as Dot) bring a new level of convenience to your living room. The AI-powered personal assistants accept voice commands and perform various tasks including ordering products, answering questions, playing music, setting reminders, and more. While these products have been around for a few years now, they became practically the norm during the pandemic, with families spending more time at home and people working remotely.   

Another popular application is Google Maps. Google Maps, as well as the traffic app Waze, analyze the speed of movement of traffic in conjunction with user-reported traffic incidents to suggest the fastest routes to and from your destination.

Artificial intelligence is also responsible for one of the most important features of your email: the spam filter. Try as you might to manually input filters to ward off spam emails, it’s nearly impossible to avoid spam emails without AI. This type of AI works by continuously learning from various signals to make sure those annoying emails are directed to your spam folder rather than your inbox. Gmail uses machine learning algorithms to successfully filter almost all the spam that comes your way.

iGaming is another industry that has thrived during the pandemic, according to The founder reported a 300% increase in revenue over the last 12 months. More time at home led to a greater need for entertainment. Online gaming, an industry that was already big, has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Artificial Intelligence in Health Care

Artificial intelligence has also made a profound impact on the health care industry throughout the pandemic. In the fight against COVID-19, AI has been used to improve the quality of patient care as well as enhancing the safety and efficiency of health systems. As millions of people witness the successful application of its many technologies during a major global health crisis, AI is becoming more widely accepted than ever before.

Artificial intelligence gives health care systems an upper hand over more traditional techniques. Machine learning algorithms can read massive sets of complex data to give healthcare providers greater insight than ever before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AI was used to accurately predict and detect disease outbreaks, monitor the disease around the world, analyze spreading trends, monitor infection rates, identify effective treatments, and much more.

With AI, the data collected from the WHO and the CDC can be accessed by institutes all over the world to allow for a more collaborative fight against the disease. AI takes that information, as well as information from the news, healthcare reports, social media posts, and more, in multiple languages. This is a massive undertaking that is simply too much for a human to manage.

Additional examples of how artificial intelligence has been used during the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported in The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, include:

  • AI has functioned as an early outbreak warning system. The AI-driven algorithm BlueDot detected COVID-19 nine days before the WHO released its statement informing people of the disease.
  • Researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei have utilized an AI tool that has been able to quickly analyze blood samples and predict survival rates of patients infected with COVID-19. The diagnostic tool has shown to be 90% accurate.
  • In China, there are numerous AI-based computer vision camera systems in place that scan crowds, detect COVID-19 symptoms, and monitor people during the lockdown.

Closing Thoughts

We’ve only scratched the surface of ways AI can make our everyday lives easier. There are seemingly endless ways that AI can be used in specific industries as well as personal activities. Just as humans have learned to adapt to the world as it continues to change, technology will always find a way to keep up.