With all the recent talk about artificial intelligence, machine learning and robots taking over the world, the terminology can be a bit overwhelming. There is a lot of misinformation on these topics and unless you have a PhD in Computer Science, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.  You’re probably wondering what artificial intelligence (AI) is on a practical level and how it will impact you and possibly your career. So let’s set the record straight on what exactly AI is (and isn’t).

Simply stated, artificial intelligence is the ability for computers to perform tasks as well, if not better, than humans. AI can be applied to any scenario where machines can be “trained” to perform specific tasks, much the way a human would, by the bot training itself or by humans teaching it.

Artificial intelligence relies heavily on machine learning algorithms to create the cognitive capabilities needed to think like a human. Predictions have existed for years about what AI would look like – all with dubious degrees of accuracy. The visions of a world subservient to robots, as depicted in science fiction movies, are more reflections of Hollywood’s creativity than actual reality. Although machines don’t quite live up to the Hollywood depiction, there are many useful applications for artificial intelligence in today’s world.

This guide to artificial intelligence provides an overview for how AI works from a business perspective and how it can be beneficial to companies now and in the future.