There has been much in the news about artificial intelligence and how it’s changing our world.

The world of artificial intelligence has been around for many years. Most recently, it’s become far more powerful for two reasons:

First, the availability of data. We now have sensors and data collection points that are unmatched in human history. Much of what we do online and in person is recorded, whether it be where we drive our cars, what we buy, the temperature, and more.

Second, our ability to analyze and learn from this data. The idea of “big data” and how we can process billions of pieces of information is also new for us. Additionally, software that can learn from not only what we do, but what others do helps computers figure us out.

These two points combined allow new skills such as “machine learning”, “deep learning” and similar enable computer systems to process vast amounts of data and produce hopefully useful information.

Where this comes in very handy is in talking to computers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and other “smart speakers.” But Artificial Intelligence is also applied to areas such as self-driving cars.

What we’re seeing is computers not only being able to have a conversation with people the way they speak (the “smart speakers”), but also do things that people would normally do, such as drive a car.

These are two examples of a myriad of topics that heretofore have been beyond the computational capabilities of modern computing. But with the continued drop in the costs of computing and the rise of raw data and the ability to process them, Artificial Intelligence is having a big impact on industries and consumers.

Of course with all of this information, there is the opportunity for misuse or even for using it in ways that were never possible. There are also issues related to data privacy and how much people and companies should be able to know about you and your actions.

As with many technology related matters, we are forging new ground where there are no experts.

Suffice it to say that Artificial Intelligence will help create a very different future for the way people interact with computers and vice versa.

As the eternal optimist, I look forward to what artificial intelligence will bring to our world, including the protections that will ultimately be put in place.

Mark Mathias is a 35+ year information technology executive and a resident of Westport, Connecticut. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology@mathias.org.