The subject of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential ramifications generates a significant amount of debate and discussion.
AI can mean different things to different people. Some may think of it as a catch all term for "smart robots" that can think like humans, but it's a bit more nuanced than that. For its part, analytics business SAS states that AI "makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks."
Some have expressed genuine concern about the ramifications of AI. In 2014 the late scientist Stephen Hawking told the BBC that the "development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." In 2017, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took a slightly different view when he said that we were in something of a "renaissance" and "golden age" when it came to the subjects of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Last month, a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, looked at the topic again. According to one participant in the discussion, chaired by CNBC's Steve Sedgwick, we're still "way, way behind having thinking robots … that will do the work of humans."
"The key about AI is data," Christopher A. Pissarides, professor of economics at the London School of Economics, went on to explain. "You need to have very large amounts of data with AI, and then it's programmed to interpret the data in certain ways."
Using chess as an example, Pissarides said computers were "very good" at the game because there were masses of data on moves from the past. "But anything new, anything that you need to stretch the way you are thinking about something, it (AI) won't be able to do," he added.
Looking at industrial data and where robots are in relation to automation, Pissarides said that the "automotive industry, by far, dominates. If you remove the automotive industry you'll probably be left with no robots anywhere in industry, except for isolated cases."