What is AI? A Beginner’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence (2024)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by 2 Comments

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What is AI? A Beginner’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence (2024)
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Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot-button topic in recent months because of its potential to revolutionize how we live and work. Because of this, there is much to learn about it. In this post, we’ll explore the basics of artificial intelligence, including the different types of AI, how it works, and the applications you can use if you’re a creative type. We will also discuss the future of AI and how to use it responsibly.

Let’s dive in.

What is AI?

What is AI

Image created with Midjourney

Artificial intelligence encompasses a range of technologies that empower computers to perform advanced tasks, such as visual perception, language comprehension and translation, data analysis, question answering, artistic creation, video generation, and much more. Serving as the backbone of modern computing, AI showcases astonishing capabilities. For instance, it can effortlessly transform a text prompt into a high-quality image (like the images in this post), simplify the removal of backgrounds from photos, facilitate autonomous driving in vehicles, and even engage customers through AI-powered chatbots.

The origins of AI trace back to 1955 when John McCarthy, an assistant professor of mathematics at Dartmouth, introduced this groundbreaking field of study. McCarthy envisioned AI as a means to “utilize language, develop abstractions and concepts, tackle problems typically reserved for humans, and enhance its own performance.” Despite the broad scope of AI, its fundamental objective remains consistent: constructing computer programs capable of problem-solving and goal achievement on par with human capabilities.


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Types of AI

To truly understand what AI is, you need to understand the types of AI available. There are three main types: narrow or weak AI, general or strong AI, and super AI. Let’s explore each one so you can wrap your brain around each type.

Narrow or Weak Artificial Intelligence

narrow or weak AI

Image created with Midjourney

With this type of AI, the computer doesn’t possess full cognitive abilities; its intelligence is based on training for that specific task. Examples of narrow AI include image recognition systems, speech recognition systems, and AI chatbots. For instance, digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, search engines like Google or Bing, and autonomous vehicles like Telsa all use narrow or weak AI to function. In fact, all modern AI tools, AI art generators and AI chatbots, are all examples of weak AI.

General or Strong Artificial Intelligence

general AI

Image created with Midjourney

The next type of AI, general or strong AI, is also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI). These systems are not limited to a specific area of expertise and can perform various tasks beyond those of weak AI programs. While we have yet to achieve this level of technology, researchers aim to create intelligence equal to humans. The goal of strong AI is to one day have a machine that has self-aware consciousness, can discern needs and emotions, and can solve any number of problems, learn, and plan for the future. So far, the only examples of general AI are present in movies, with characters such as R2-D2 or Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Super Artificial Intelligence

super AI

Image created with Midjourney

Artificial superintelligence (ASI) is a type of AI that allows machines to exceed human capabilities. These systems would be able to do things such as predict the future, create new scientific methods, and more. With ASI, scientists could solve some of our largest problems, such as curing cancer, ending world hunger, or balancing the federal budget. While these seem out of the realm of possibility, scientists hope to use AI to improve our world. That said, this type of artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we could use this technology to enhance our way of life. On the other hand, it could end life as we know it.

How Does Artificial Intelligence Work?

How AI works

Image created with Midjourney

AI works by processing large amounts of data and using algorithms, a set of rules, to recognize keywords to identify the type of help you’re looking for. It is programmed to think, act, and respond like a human. It encompasses three types of machine learning: supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement, to develop these algorithms to offer solutions, answer questions, make predictions, or offer suggestions.

Every time an artificial intelligence system processes data, it tests and measures its performance, then learns from it. Unlike humans, machines don’t need breaks, so they can run millions of tasks quickly, learning as they go. It is important to understand that AI is not merely a solitary computer program or application but a field of study.

What is Machine Learning?

ChatGPT

Machine learning is a type of AI that focuses on developing algorithms to learn from data. It enables computers to learn or train themselves from large amounts of existing data. For example, OpenAI’s ChatGPT uses several data sets containing over 570GB of text data from the internet, including books, articles, websites, and even social media. This enables ChatGPT to be one of the leading generative AI programs available, with many uses.

There are three main types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning.

Supervised Learning

Supervised learning allows computers to learn from labeled examples, meaning the input data already has known outputs. For example, a computer can be trained to recognize cats in pictures by showing many images of labeled cats. The computer can then use this training to accurately identify cats in new photos. You may already be familiar with this concept if you have an iPhone or Android device.

Let’s say you’ve taken photos of a family pet with your iPhone. When you click on the picture, iPhone recognizes the image of your pet and provides a link to the type of pet it thinks is shown in the photo.

supervised learning

Unsupervised Learning

unsupervised learning

Image created with Midjourney

Unlike supervised learning, unsupervised learning is self-organized and doesn’t require labeled data. Examples of unsupervised learning are clustering, which group data points together based on similarity, and dimensionality reduction, which finds the most important features of that data and reduces its size. Additionally, there’s anomaly detection, which is used to find data points that are unusual or out of the ordinary. Some examples of unsupervised learning in artificial intelligence are fraud detection in banking, cybersecurity, speech recognition, and marketing techniques such as customer segmentation.

Reinforcement Learning

This type of machine learning is the closest to human learning as machines can get. Machines can learn to follow instructions, conduct testing, operate equipment, and more through training. Reinforcement learning revolves around a digital program put into a specific learning environment. Like human learning, the digital agent faces a game-like situation and makes a series of decisions to try and achieve the right outcome. It learns by repeatedly failing, remembering to avoid repeating the same pattern. Correct answers are rewarded, while incorrect ones disperse punishment, teaching the software to avoid doing the wrong thing again. Some examples of reinforcement learning are robots that aid in the car manufacturing process, predictive text (think text messaging), healthcare diagnoses, and energy consumption.

Google DeepMind

For example, Google implemented reinforcement learning to control the energy expended through its data centers. With the help of DeepMind, Google has managed to reduce its data centers cooling bills by 40%.

What are Large Language Models?

A large language model (LLM) is a machine learning model that leverages deep learning techniques to process and comprehend language. It can process large amounts of data, learn intricate language patterns, and perform tasks such as answering questions, engaging in conversations, and tackling problem-solving scenarios. The most recognizable example of an LLM is ChatGPT, which, as previously mentioned, was trained on over 570GB of data.

Multiple layers of neural networks (similar to the human brain) comprise LLMs, which work together to analyze text and make predictions. They utilize left-to-right patterns to predict the likely association of words with one another. LLMs mirror a human’s ability to anticipate what might follow a word in a sentence.

How to Creatively Use AI

There are countless ways to use AI, including creatively. There are plenty of excellent AI tools to improve your productivity in several ways. These include AI writing tools, AI Art generators, and AI video generators. Let’s look at a few tools you can incorporate into your daily work schedule up your AI game.

AI Writing Tools: Jasper

Jasper AI writing tool

Jasper is one of the best AI writing tools out there. It’s primarily used for generating SEO-quality copy. It has many features, including a natural language processor (NLP) that you can use to analyze and rewrite your content to make it more engaging. It’s also a great tool for correcting punctuation, improving your writing style, or generating new copy.

Pricing: Plans start at $29/mo, but Plagiarism Checker plans start at $59/mo for Boss Mode.

Get Jasper

AI Art Generators: Midjourney

MidJourney AI Art Generator

There is a lot of text-to-image software available right now, but few are better than Midjourney. Built on a Discord server, users can describe the image they wish to create using only a text prompt. You can use any number of descriptors to create pictures based on style, subject, and parameters to make the most realistic images imaginable. The interface takes time to learn, but even the greenest AI user can create gorgeous, lifelike pictures with Midjourney.

Pricing: Free, Paid plans start at $10 monthly.

Get MidJourney

AI Video Generators: Pictory

Picture AI Video creator

One of the best AI video generators out right now is Pictory. You can create short, branded, long-form, and everything in between with text-to-video generative AI. You can easily turn scripts, blog posts, or simple text descriptions into videos in just a few minutes. Plus, there are over three million images, stickers, and other design elements that you can use in the final product.

Pricing: Free, with premium monthly plans starting at $23.

Try Pictory

How to Use Artificial Intelligence Responsibly

Even though AI has existed for several decades, the general public has remained largely unaware of it until recently. Whether you love or hate it, AI tools can dramatically boost productivity in our daily lives. That said, if we use it, we must use it ethically.

Here are a few tips to follow:

  1. Use it as an assistive tool: The most important thing to remember is to use it to help you, not do your job for you. It’s fine to use it to help with blog topics, generate outline ideas, create image assets, or for similar tasks. Never use it as a job replacement.
  2. Fact check everything: If you use generative AI, such as ChatGPT, Jasper, or Writesonic, be sure to always check the output for accuracy. People using it for a while can tell you that AI will sometimes lie to you. Take what it says with a grain of salt.
  3. Choose a reputable tool: With the emergence of so many artificial intelligence programs, it’s critically important to use a tool that is widely recognized. Be sure to thoroughly research any tool you use by reading reviews and examining their privacy and security practices.

The Future of AI

the future of AI

Image created with Midjourney

Whether we like it or not, the artificial intelligence revolution has arrived, and it’s up to each one of us to embrace it, learn from it, and utilize it responsibly. As this groundbreaking technology continues to evolve, we should anticipate some challenges along the way. While some fear it may result in job losses, others remain hopeful that new opportunities will arise to replace lost ones. Regardless, we owe it to ourselves to learn how to use it to increase productivity, make us more marketable as employees, and help responsibly usher in this new and exciting era.

Final Thoughts on Artificial Intelligence

If you’re still on the fence about AI, try testing a few applications to see what all the fuss is about. For writing, check out Jasper. They offer a 7-day free trial, so you can get a good feel for what it can do. Looking to create videos or images? Give Pictory and Midjourney a try. Pictory offers a free trial, but Midjourney doesn’t. However, once you see the results you can achieve with it, you will be fine paying $10 a month.

Do you want to learn more about AI? Check out a few of our how-to posts to help you get the most out of artificial intelligence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Before we wrap up, let’s answer some of your most common questions about AI. Did we miss one? Leave a question below, and we will respond!

What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) means that machines (or computers) can mimic human thinking, learning, and behavior. In technical terms, AI is a collection of technologies enabling computers to perform complex tasks, including visual perception, language comprehension, data analysis, artistic creation, and more. It empowers modern computing with capabilities such as generating images from text, background removal from photos, autonomous driving, and interactive chatbots for customer engagement.
What is AI in simple terms?
In simple terms, Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines (or computers) to think, learn, and act like humans. AI uses advanced technology to make human tasks much more efficient. It can learn from data, solve problems, make decisions, and communicate with humans with surprising accuracy.
What is AI used for?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is used for personalized recommendations in e-commerce, search engine results, and smartphone applications. Language translation and automated subtitling benefit from AI's capabilities. Its widespread usage in diverse fields demonstrates AI's significance in optimizing processes, enhancing user experiences, and addressing real-world challenges.
What are some recent examples of AI?
There are countless ways AI is being used today. Some common examples of AI include:
  • Writing assistance (like Jasper AI writing tool)
  • Art/Image generation (like Midjourney)
  • Virtual assistance (like Siri or Alexa)
  • Video generators (like Pictory)
  • Chatbots (like ChatGPT or Chatsonic)
  • Self-driving cars (like Tesla)
  • Fraud detection (for financial transactions)
  • Medical diagnosis (by analyzing images and data)
What are the 3 main types of AI?
Generally, there are three main types of AI:
  • Narrow AI - This weaker level of AI is most common today, found in modern AI tools like Jasper or Midjourney.
  • General AI - This stronger level of AI, also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI) would attain the same level of intellectual capabilities as a human (hypothetically).
  • Super AI - also known as artificial superintelligence, is a hypothetical type of AI that would supersede the capabilities of a human.
Can I use AI for free?
Yes, AI can be accessed for free or at a low cost through open-source or freemium tools, enabling individuals and businesses with limited budgets to explore AI and use it for their needs. For example, Jasper offers a 7-day free trial to experience its capabilities, such as correcting punctuation, enhancing writing style, and generating new content, making it an accessible and valuable AI tool.
What is OpenAI?
OpenAI is an AI research-based organization focused on benefitting humanity through artificial general intelligence. This organization aims to ensure that AI systems can give more to humanity than humans themselves. They prioritize generative models that are congruent with human values.
What is the best AI image generator?
MidJourney is the best AI image generator due to its simplicity and creativity. Through Discord commands, users describe their desired output, and the bot generates digital art accordingly. It fosters a vibrant community of creatives who support each other and share ideas. Unlike other tools, it doesn't rely on presets, making it versatile and capable of creating unique and personalized artwork.
What app is currently leading the AI trend?
ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, has emerged as a leading AI trendsetter. Launched in November 2022, it quickly gained popularity, amassing 100 million active users within two months. ChatGPT utilizes three advanced generative pre-trained transformers (GPT) models to generate text and code based on user input as conversational software. Trained on extensive text data from diverse sources, the models learn language rules. While the 3.5 version has information up to 2021, the paid 4.0 version offers limited access to data beyond that date.
What kind of AI is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a language model based on artificial intelligence (AI). Specifically, it is powered by the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture, a deep learning model developed by OpenAI. It was developed by OpenAI, an AI research company founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs and researchers like Elon Musk and Sam Altman before launching in November 2022.
What is the best AI art generator?
Jasper Art, a product of Jasper AI, is the best AI art generator, complimenting the favored AI copywriting tool, Jasper. With Jasper Art's straightforward interface and text-based prompts, users can effortlessly create original digital art in various styles tailored to their preferences. The generated images are copyright-free, eliminating the need for expensive royalty-free image libraries. Additionally, Jasper Art offers preset templates for quick art style matching. It is an essential companion tool for marketing teams and professionals seeking efficient, high-quality AI-generated visuals for their projects.
What is the best AI chatbot?
Writesonic is a top AI chatbot platform for businesses worldwide. It offers Chatsonic and Botsonic as powerful AI chatbot tools, integrating proprietary technology to enhance capabilities beyond ChatGPT. Botsonic enables AI-driven conversations with customers and leads by connecting sales and support data. With a free plan offering 10,000 monthly words and access to various features, Writesonic caters to a wide range of users seeking advanced chatbot solutions.
What is the AI on Snapchat?
Snapchat introduced its AI chatbot, My AI, powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT. Users can customize its name, create a personalized avatar, and engage it in conversations with friends. However, the feature faced criticism from some parents and users due to privacy concerns, "creepy" interactions, and the inability to remove it without a premium subscription. Concerns about data collection from shared photos and its suggestions for lying to parents were raised. Despite mixed feedback, many users found it useful for music and movie recommendations.

Featured Image via Deezgrafix (me) / midjourney.com

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  1. i think AI for now is the next future

    • Has been.

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