Alec Ross dedicates time to addressing the topic of Artificial Intelligence in his book The Industries of The Future. This blog post I will offer my opinions regarding this subject matter as well as connect the piece to Gonzaga University.

Webster’s Dictionary defines artificial intelligence (AI) as “the power of a machine to copy intelligent human behavior.” The fact of the matter is that global business and production are growing at a pace that humans can’t keep up with. Therefore, to remain efficient, AI must be utilized. Whether something as simple as scheduling social media posts to as complex as self-operated vehicles, artificial intelligence is driving our future. AI is also transforming the world of Big Data. Information is being gathered every second and AI is necessary to organize this information, predict business forecasting and enhance productivity. Large businesses and corporations will need AI to survive.

The term “big data” is used to describe anything measurable that pertains to a specific company, organization or occurrence. Big data is a combination of metrics, from both digital and traditional transaction resources. These figures are comprised of unstructured and multi-structured data. Unstructured data is anything that might be pulled in through social media platforms or internal digital interactions such as text, email and audio files. Unstructured data assumes its name due to its raw and unorganized nature. In contrast, multi-structured data is very organized. Multi-structured data is extracted from fixed categories. For example, if Nordstrom was in need of analytics in women’s shoes they would look at retail purchases from specific categories, such as promotions, designs, regions etc.

The most important aspect of big data is the ability to decipher and understand it. This is where AI comes into play. AI sifts through information and is able to inform a company of the importance of metrics.

A large and growing part of AI is robotics. Many people believe that robotics and AI are something to be reckoned with in the future. However, it is important to realize that they already here and dominant in many industries. Robotics control the actions of a machine and are programmed to operate independently using sensors. Robotics are being used in factory labor, agriculture, environmental research, healthcare, solar energy, and more.

Gonzaga University reinforces this innovative significance. In fact, Gonzaga has its own robotics club. The club is “open to any students interested in working on engineering projects and gaining hands-on engineering skills.” The club’s main goal is to “experiment and learn while building and improving robots.” It is incredibly valuable for students to have personal operation practice with models of AI. Gonzaga is preparing students to think in a way that will be sure to benefit them in the future.

I was able to sit down with Matt Stanley, Gonzaga Sophomore, and member of the robotics club to gain additional insight into their work. Stanley explains that the club typically engages in year-long projects, or projects that may even extend over a year. The amount of projects are determined by the amount of club members. The more members, the more projects. Stanley was always fascinated with robotics but never had the chance to become involved with them until he came to Gonzaga.

Although its primary function is to develop its member’s engineering and manufacturing skills, the club continues to exemplify the Jesuit mission of caring for others. Stanley explains that their projects often revolve around what they can create for those in need. For example, the club worked on building a robotic hand and wheelchair for a student that would allow them to bowl. It is very admirable that these students invest time into furthering their professional interests while bettering the lives of others. The club continues to grow, expanding their capacity to take on more projects.

I think that Alec Ross would be very proud of the work that Gonzaga University is doing.