The human brain is often considered to be the most complex thing in the known universe. But do we realize that during our day to day lives? Not really. We do not think about the millions and millions of neurons in our brain and the central nervous system that control just about everything we do.
Neural networks, or artificial neural networks (ANN) to be precise, are computing systems designed to work like the original neural networks we find in our bodies. However, far, far, far less complex than their biological counterparts in the human body, ANNs can still perform some really cool functions that ordinary humans cannot do.
Like A Baby, (And An Orc)
And just like the unseen and unknown neural networks in our body, these artificial neural networks are also starting to exert considerable influence in our daily lives. Their main strength lies in the ability to sift through massive tranches of data and derive something useful out of it all.
But that is what computers can do, right? The X-factor here is the fact that neural networks can learn from the data and evolve. In some ways, it sounds and feels quite a bit like a human baby. In the early years, you have to spend a lot of time teaching it the basics. But after a point, you no longer have to hold its hands for everything.
And neural networks can be made as complex as you want them to be. In the immortal words of Shrek, they are a bit like onions, or the big green guy himself. The most basic design will have three layers: an input layer, output layer, and a hidden layer sandwiched in between to work on the data.
But depending on the complexity of the task, a neural network can be designed to have multiple hidden layers. A simple rule of thumb is, the more complex the target data and objective of the neural network, the higher the number of layers.
The Hidden Wizard of Oz in Our Digital Lives
So how exactly do these neural networks affect us in our daily lives? The main area is in the digital sphere, which is where we spend a lot of time these days. Here are some cool implementations of neural networks by businesses and industries right now:
Keeping The Trash Away
Spam detection is one area where neural networks have been quite effective. In addition to the usual filters and blacklists, Google has been using neural networks at least since 2015. Companies like LinkedIn and Facebook also use neural networks to detect abusive or offensive content posted by users.
Guessing What We Need
Gone are the days when you had to seek out what you need online. Nowadays, everybody out there seems to know what you need more than yourself! Be it on Amazon, YouTube, or Netflix (to name a few), you will see suggestions based on your past activity. All this is made possible by neural networks. Facebook also uses it for the “friends suggestion” feature, albeit with some mixed results.
Avoiding Bad Credit
Banks and financial institutions are starting to use AI and neural networks in a big way to assess potential risks in lending. Using neural networks, banks and insurance companies can identify exactly the kind of services they can safely offer to a new client. They can help make fraud detection faster and easier as well.
Identifying Future Trends
The ultimate dream of any business would be an ability to accurately predict the future. It doesn’t matter which sector you are in, finance, retail, real estate, or anything else, the ability to look into future trends is like being able to mint your own money. And more and more companies across the spectrum are trying to harness neural networks and deep learning to look into the future.
Neural networks trained to sift through millions of images can acquire some cool skills. Besides routine stuff like face detection on modern smartphones, they can even help in vital tasks like cancer detection. Modern scanners equipped with AI can help doctors identify diseases with more accuracy.
Driving Our Vehicles
Self-driven cars are no longer restricted to the realm of fancy or Sci-Fi. We are actually witnessing road trials. Cities across Europe are planning to introduce fleets of autonomous driverless vehicles in their public transport systems.
These are just a fraction of the myriad different ways in which AI and neural networks are changing the way we humans live. Businesses are at the forefront of harnessing this revolutionary technology.