In brief

In brief

  • AI is a collection of technologies that can enable a machine or system to sense, comprehend, act, and learn.
  • Training a system through machine learning or deep learning is a core part of what makes it intelligent—and can be incredibly powerful.

What is AI?

Capable of meaning different things to different people in different contexts, the concept can be hard to define. That’s because it isn’t really a technology in its own right at all. It’s a collection of different technologies that can be brought together to enable a machine to act with intelligence. So, rather than focusing too much on dictionary definitions, it helps to think about AI in terms of what it enables a machine or a system to do.

Machine learning is at the core of what makes a system intelligent. Being able to decide how to act by analyzing data, rather than through hard coding, differentiates AI from other forms of automation.

There are four capabilities in particular:

  1. Sense. AI lets a machine perceive the world around it by acquiring and processing images, sounds, speech, text, and other data.
  2. Comprehend. AI enables a machine to recognize patterns and context in the information it collects, just as humans interpret information by understanding patterns and context in their perception of the world.
  3. Act. AI enables a machine to take actions in the physical or digital world based on that perception or comprehension.
  4. Learn. AI enables a machine to continuously optimize its performance by learning from the success or failure of its actions.

We’re seeing the fruits of this technology already. So whether it’s an algorithm learning to play the highly complex board game Go better than a human, or computer vision able to understand visual inputs with extraordinary accuracy, or predictive models able to forecast the future like never before, machine learning and deep learning are at the heart of countless AI breakthroughs.

Stat: Sixty percent of all trades on Wall Street are executed by AI with little or no real-time oversight from humans. For businesses, AI is just one of a suite of tools able to augment employees’ expertise and assist them with the routine, repetitive, often boring parts of their jobs. By providing new insights as part of an advanced analytics solution, or by helping automate monotonous tasks through cognitive robotic process automation (RPA), AI is making day-to-day work more productive, more effective, and more interesting.

Stat: One RPA invoice processing project for a large manufacturing client includes....

  • 70% elapsed time saving
  • 30% productivity benefit
  • 100% accuracy
Sixty percent of all trades on
Wall Street are executed by AI with little or no real-time oversight from humans.

Ray Eitel-Porter

Managing Director – Accenture Digital, Head of Applied Intelligence UK & Ireland

Dr. Athina Kanioura

Chief Analytics Officer and Global Lead – Applied Intelligence


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