Back to basics: a brief introduction to all things AI

Amelia Kirby

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been with us for over half a century now. From its early beginnings beating chess and checkers players, it’s now part of the fabric of 21st-century living. Many AI uses are so commonplace, you’ve already come to rely on it for the convenience, speed, and accuracy it brings to your daily life — in your smartphone, sat-nav, and Uber ride. So, what actually is this tech that has revolutionised our lives so seamlessly?  

Everything you need to know about AI but were afraid to ask

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is simply a computer or machine that uses human-like intelligence to perform tasks. When you search for something on Google, an algorithm uses AI to give you the results you’re looking for. Or if you ask Siri for directions, the response you get is built with AI. We can program computers to ‘think’, ‘learn’ and ‘understand’ in the same way your mind would work to drive a car, search for directions or play your favourite music.  

Why is the use of AI growing at such a fast pace? It’s to do with the amount of data available and the power of today’s cutting-edge computer systems to process all that data — and to process it fast and accurately. From choosing what you should watch next on your streaming channel to diagnosing disease in patients, AI is helping skilled professionals to work more effectively and kids to do their homework. And everything in between. It’s more accessible than ever before.

There are a few terms you’ll need to know to get to grips with AI — we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to — let’s take a look at the basics.  

Reactive machines

This is the original type of artificial intelligence. It works within a limited set of parameters and simple behaviours to respond to pre-set ‘what if’ scenarios. It can’t learn as such, but it can react to its environment.  

Limited memory

This is one of the most commonly used forms of AI. Machines are programmed to store data from previous situations and make informed decisions based on past experience. Most deep learning uses are applied in this way, and this is what powers Tiliter’s software and hardware. We give our system a set of data that trains it to make predictions in the future. Limited memory is also used to power self-drive cars.  

Theory of mind and self-aware

Theory of mind is the next chapter in artificial intelligence, but it’s still in the very early stages of development. This will allow machines to understand human psychology and emotional intelligence and possibly express emotions as well. Right now, self-aware AI is still conceptual stuff.

Narrow AI

Narrow artificial intelligence, or specific AI, is the version that’s used today and includes product recognition at the supermarket. It uses a limited set of data and usually only carries out one or two specific tasks. Strong AI is when machines can truly think for themselves, but this is again is conceptual at this stage.

Machine learning and deep learning

This subset of AI is for teaching machines to process and analyse data themselves. The more data the system can gather, the more it can reprogram itself to respond to real-world situations.  

Then in the case of deep learning, the computer will teach itself to carry out a task more and more accurately without human intervention. Facebook’s algorithm and Siri are good examples.  

Fast, accurate and flexible AI for retail identification

At Tiliter, we use AI to power our computer vision software and hardware to identify objects in everyday situations automatically. Using deep learning, we teach our system to recognise hundreds of objects in under a second. A perfect example of how fast AI can work and how we can use it to make a manual human task more convenient.

Tiliter is at the forefront of deep learning and computer vision

What’s next for AI?

Beyond the checkout, our AI tech has limitless uses across the retail industry. From mobile recognition, in-store pattern detection and limitless customisations, we use AI to train Tiliter hardware and software to automate and improve your processes and enhance your customers’ experience.  

With theory of mind and self-aware AI a fair while away for now, Tiliter is working at the forefront of deep learning and computer vision to offer a superior product with bleeding-edge technology at its core. Our clients are already seeing the benefits of using AI to innovate the shopping experience. Customers can scan products in seconds rather than minutes, skip the checkout queue and avoid too many touchpoints. And retailers can automate a range of processes and detection tasks that used to be manual and time-consuming. The AI revolution is only just getting started.  

Want to understand more about our AI tech? Contact us here; we love to talk tech


Amelia is Tiliter’s wordsmith. She has a background in tech writing, comms and content in a broad range of industries and is on a mission to banish jargon.

Amelia Kirby

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