How AI affects the average computer user

Artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly nothing new. Computers’ ability to mimic human thought and learn from experience is a science that’s been around practically since the dawn of computing.

Of course, AI has come a long way since its inception. Whether you embrace, resist or even fear it, AI is a natural part of everyone’s everyday life.

AI affects everyone, though perhaps no one more so than the average computer user. Here’s a look into how practically anyone with a computer is affected by AI.

How AI affects the average computer user

Search engines use extremely complex algorithms to find you relevant results

Consider the simple example of search engines. When you type something into a search engine, Google (or Microsoft, or Yahoo, or your site of choice) uses AI to accomplish a wide range of tasks before offering you results.

First, it has to interpret your query in a way that makes sense. For example, if you type “rental cars near me,” the search engine will likely assume you’re looking for rental car services and provide them for you. If it took you literally — that is, you’re simply looking for matches for “rental cars near me” — it could give you practically anything as long as it has one or more of those words in it. But the search engine knows queries like yours mean you want rental car services, not simply a map of people driving rental cars driving around you or a history of the rental car.

That’s not the only way AI is used in a search engine, though. It will consider your browsing habits and previous searches when coming up with results. If you’ve recently browsed for places to buy cookware, your search engine remembers this and will offer you similar results, assuming you’re still in the market for cookware. You’ll probably see ads about cookware as you’re browsing various sites, especially on social media. Those don’t show up by chance — that’s how Google’s targeted advertising works. Which, not coincidentally, makes up the vast majority of their revenue.

ChatGPT can try to answer the question, “Is it important to do my homework?”

ChatGPT, a chatbot created by Open AI, is an example of just how far AI has come. Still in its infancy, it remains a phenomenally impressive AI you can present with virtually any problem or question — even hypothetical or fantastical ones — and it will use a vast database of information to try to answer it, just like a person might. You can ask it to come up with ideas for a paper, and it will offer them. You could also ask it to write a paper for you, and it can do that without copying another source’s words — which has created its own challenges for teachers everywhere.

ChatGPT isn’t the only AI that can hold conversations and answer questions like a person can. Microsoft recently updated its Bing search engine with its own AI similar to ChatGPT, with a few extra options. You can direct it to write in a way that’s “funny,” “casual” or “professional,” for example. You can ask it to come up with recipes or plan a trip. As long as it can be answered with the use of real-world information, you can reliably expect an AI to be able to respond thoughtfully.

There’s a very famous quote by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” AI, if it hasn’t already, is on its way to being so advanced as to seem like magic.

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