IT and AI: programming for a brave new world

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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How do computers affect your life When you think about it at first, you probably reflect on the time you spend on a laptop or tablet playing games, watching Youtube, browsing the web or updating your social media profiles.

But the full extent of the massive influence that computers exert over our lives is almost beyond measure. We just tend to take it for granted at this point.

Sometimes it takes a bit of context to remind us – such as that provided by report on the BBC website on February 6 in which the massive processing power of an IBM computer was touted as being a potential solution to the most pressing problems on the entire continent of Africa.

Experts believe that the computer (which has been given the name Watson), given its ability to analyse huge chunks of data, could transform the health and education provision on the continent. And because the system is capable of understanding human language, and is able to reason, schools with poor or non-existent computer resources could link into the cloud-based system via smartphones or portable devices with internet connectivity to ask it questions.

Medical practitioners could do the same to help find diagnose and treat problems.

Even transport could be radically improved as analytics on the state of country roads and congestion levels in cities could prove useful for logistics firms that currently have to negotiate pothole-filled roads and traffic chaos. The potential for a brave new world is clearly there, but it’s up to people rather than computers to fulfill it.

Frank Bolger

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