How Artificial Intelligence Might Transform the Engineering Industry

Artificial intelligence is all around us. Since 1956, when the field of AI was founded it’s been a subject of public interest. But as great as it is, expectations for AI today are phenomenally high and designing such systems is not easy. The progress of these systems can be seen in IBM’s Watson and Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo program which demonstrates how increasingly powerful computing abilities are fostering AI. There are now several AI’s in existence whose abilities exceed that of humans, and that number is continuously increasing. It’s a technology that is becoming popular is various industries, including engineering. The following are a few examples of some of the current AI techniques and applications being used and how they might affect the engineering industry.

Machine learning: There are various methods of machine learning in use, but some of the most efficient are those based on the concept of artificial neural networks (ANN’s). These are modeled upon the neurons found in the human brain and are equipped with a network of nodes connected with varying degrees of correlation. One method that has been used since the beginning of training ANN’s is the perception algorithm. This algorithm teaches a network to sort inputs into one of two classes. It works by inputting training data, comparing the expected output to the actual node output and updates their weighting based on the difference.

Artificial Intelligence Applications: There are various accomplishments for the engineering industry about machine learning and AI techniques that can be seen over the past few years including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Image Processing, Disease Treatment, Autonomous Vehicles, and Data Structure Technology. The Internet of Things, or IoT, is another engineering achievement that will turn every appliance into a smart one. While big data is the mass collection of data that is the key promise of AI analytics.

Overall, AI is certain to bring about some significant changes within the engineering industry, one of which will be the automation of many low-level engineering tasks. However, this may not be as beneficial as it first implies. “Artificial intelligence will render many of the simpler professional tasks redundant – potentially replacing many of the tasks by which our younger engineers and other professionals learn the details of our trade,” said Tim Chapman, director of the Arup Infrastructure Group. A study carried or by Stanford University looked into the impact of AI, and engineering jobs are not roles that are going to be affected too much over the next 15 years. And even if some jobs are lost to AI, new ones will be opened as people will still be needed to oversee the running of them.

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