“Techies always come out with new buzzwords to scare us, so suddenly we have got this buzzword called artificial intelligence or AI. But there is nothing really great in terms of AI, because we have been using it all the time. When you use equipment like a calculator, you’re essentially using it as an extension of your brain. So you are relying on external intelligence, which, if you think about it, is really artificial intelligence. So nothing to get scared about, really,” said Yazdi Tantra, computer consultant and tech guru, while speaking at a webinar organised by Moneylife Foundation.
The webinar was organised with the aim of demystifying AI for the layman and to learn about the practical applications of this technology in our daily lives. Mr Tantra began his talk by addressing some common misconceptions about AI and emphasised how it should be seen as an extension of human capabilities rather than an enigmatic force. Just like a calculator can perform mathematical operations, AI augments our abilities in various domains.
While AI is a vast and constantly growing field, through his presentation, Mr Tantra highlighted a few key areas where it is already being used effectively. As he explained, AI has quietly infiltrated our daily lives without us realising it. Common examples include virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home, autocomplete features in text applications, and facial and voice recognition features on our smart devices that we now use for convenience.
“AI plays a crucial role in connecting and managing IoT (Internet of Things) devices, such as your smartphone or wearable smart devices or virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri, which are making our homes and cities smarter. We already have self-driving cars which rely on AI algorithms to navigate and make real-time decisions. We can even see it in engineering and architecture,” he explained.
Starting with the example of the commonly used Microsoft Excel, Mr Tantra demonstrated how AI has been integrated into the software, to make data analysis more accessible than ever. Features like autofill, predictive fill and AI-powered data analysis were demonstrated by Mr Tantra with easy-to-understand examples. With the power of AI, Excel can now analyse data intelligently, answer text-based questions and even analyse a given set of data without the user having to learn any formulas or key phrases.
Throughout his presentation, Mr Tantra made use of practical examples to showcase how AI has been integrated in sophisticated tools that help us generate images, write emails, scripts, and poems, create presentations and music or even design functional websites. Below are some highlights of the tools discussed by Mr Tantra during the highly informative webinar.
AI-powered chatbots, text generation and search
Participants were also introduced to AI-powered text generation tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. They witnessed how it could generate content, such as taglines, stories and poems, with ease and minimal prompts. By practically demonstrating the use and power of chatbots, Mr Tantra explained how AI can assist in creative endeavours, writing tasks and in the ideation phase of a project.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has integrated AI features that go beyond traditional searches. One can ask Bing questions in natural language, such as planning a dinner party or seeking travel advice and get conversational responses that are fairly accurate and sourced from different websites across the internet. Demonstrating with live examples, Mr Tantra showed how Bing can also help you draft a letter, find information on a specific topic or even write a script in the style of a famous author.
AI-enhanced image generation
Another exciting aspect covered in the webinar was AI's ability to generate images based on textual descriptions. Participants discovered that AI can create visual content from written instructions, showcasing its potential for graphic design and creative projects. Mr Tantra demonstrated this through DALL-E which can generate unique and copyright-free images based on simple textual descriptions.
While DALL-E offers a limited number of free credits that can be replenished periodically, it is easy to see how the tool could be incredibly handy for artists, designers and anyone looking for high-quality, royalty-free images.
AI-powered writing tools
If you need assistance with writing content, Rytr.ai is a great option, as Mr Tantra demonstrated. It offers assistance with various writing exercises, including emails, blogs, ads, newsletters and more. Designed as a more specialised version of a chatbot, Rytr can be guided to write in a particular tone – formal, funny, apologetic, persuasive, etc. and can be prompted to provide multiple variations to a writing request.
Audio tools powered by AI
As Mr Tantra showed in his talk, AI is also making audio-related tasks more manageable. Tools like Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai can transcribe audio recordings, making it easier to convert spoken words into text. These tools can be especially useful for documenting meetings, interviews or discussions.
Audiopen is another tool that stands out in this category. It allows a user to speak thoughts or ideas aloud, then with the power of AI, organise them into coherent text. It is an excellent choice for brainstorming or quickly capturing ideas for various projects.
Other AI-powered tools
There are also specially designed tools to assist users with creating presentations and even for designing fully functional websites. Mr Tantra also briefly introduced the participants to AI-powered image and video editing tools such as https://remove.bg and https://zmo.ai
AI’s influence has also extended to the field of medicine. While speaking about new advancements in AI, Mr Tantra shared how the technology, though still in the experimental phase, has been used in the diagnosis of conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and for the prediction of adverse cardiovascular conditions. Similarly, in the legal field, new services like Lex Machina are being used to predict the behaviour of courts, judges, lawyers and parties with legal analytics. Again, while it is still being developed and in an experimental phase, it has been touted to help legal professionals make more informed decisions based on historical data and trends.
Participants also had the opportunity to get their questions about AI answered by Mr Tantra. On the concern of losing privacy in an AI-driven world, he emphasised that one should always “trust the infrastructure and acknowledge that there is no ultimate security. Just as you trust the security of your home but can't make it entirely immune to threats, AI systems depend on secure infrastructure.”
An interesting question arose regarding plagiarism checks for AI-generated content. It was explained that there are apps available that can detect whether content was generated by AI or written by a human. However, achieving 100% security in this regard remains challenging.
The webinar also touched upon the impact of AI on employment. Mr Tantra highlighted that “AI does not necessarily lead to job loss but rather job transformation. Just as the introduction of computers in the workplace did not eliminate jobs but created new roles, AI is expected to do the same.”
AI-powered tools are transforming the way we approach creative and productive tasks. Whether you are looking for images, assistance with writing or help with audio-related tasks, these tools can significantly streamline your work and boost your efficiency. But there is a debate that arises on the loss of creativity and individuality. On this valid concern, Mr Tantra explained, “AI should be viewed as a tool to enhance human creativity rather than something that replaces it. There is no imminent threat of AI overtaking human creativity and thinking abilities.”
A video recording of the webinar is available on Moneylife Foundation’s YouTube channel…