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Mechanical TurkArtificial Intelligence is almost a magical process. When you look at it more closely, you find it maybe a bit mysterious how it actually works but it can bring great benefits to your business. Let's dive into this topic in this blog and first start with the Mechanical Turk, a fake chess-playing machine.

Mechanical Turk

Have you ever heard of the Mechanical Turk? It was a fake chess playing machine that was invented in the late 18th century. It was built in 1770 by someone called Wolfgang von Kempelen to impress the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. It looked like a large wooden desk with a chessboard on top but hidden in the desk is actually a skilled chess player. Of course, it was an elaborate hoax. But recently I actually saw a video of Square off a chessboard that functions like the mechanical Turk. You can play against the computer or another person anywhere in the world and the pieces will move by themselves. Of course, in this case there is not a person inside. No, this is actually some smart mechanics and of course Artificial Intelligence (AI) if you’re playing against the board itself. They call it the magic chessboard and I do believe it is. But can you imagine how people more than 200 years ago looked at that machine? 

By the way Amazon, the retail giant/device manufacturer/cloud provider, has a service called the Mechanical Turk a marketplace where people can find tasks that computers cannot do just yet. But they are not the only ones! In the world of libraries archives and museums in the Netherlands a service called ‘Vele Handen’ (translates to ‘many hands’) connects volunteers to tasks that the museums would like to have performed would where AI is actually not able to perform that task.

AI is entering our world

Although AI is not able to perform every task, it is able at this moment to perform a number of very mundane tasks. Like for instance in my car, AI will recognize what kind of trip I’m making. When I travel between home and work, visiting a client or perhaps even making a private trip that has nothing to do with work and will label the trip accordingly in the logs. What AI and Machine Learning are also capable of is finding patterns in data sets and make real prime predictions. This capability is available in for instance WSO2 Stream Processor and from there can be integrated in other WSO2 products like Enterprise Integrator or WSO2 API manager.

So, we’re now seeing the first applications of artificial intelligence in our business. Note that until now no one has talked about making the big decisions, for instance like the trolley problem. In this thought experiment in ethics a runaway trolley is moving toward five tied up people lying on the track. You have a lever that controls the switch and if you do that the trolley will be directed onto a side track where only one person is lying down tied up. What do you? This seems like a strange experiment but consider self-driving cars and suddenly the situation becomes less academic. What should we do or what could we do? To be honest I don’t have the answer but it is a discussion we need to have when we are talking about this sort of AI becoming part of our society.

Luckily the applications of AI that are now becoming more commonplace are less fraught with these moral dilemmas. We can start with AI and find out what the benefits can be for our organizations. This is going to be something that not exactly the easiest work that you’ll ever going to do. AI is something that, for the largest part of the population, has the same kind of abracadabra or magic as the mechanical Turk in the late 18th century. But there is also good news. There are many resources online that you can use to learn about AI. A National AI course has been introduced in the Netherlands that will give Dutch people knowledge about what’s happening under the hood of AI. The course is free and if you’re interested in AI and of course big Dutch that is a prerequisite this will give you an introduction into that field.

WSO2

But AI on its own is less powerful. Whatever the outcome of AI is, something needs to be done with it. As I mentioned before WSO2 as the Machine Learning capabilities built into the stream processor that can also be used in other WSO2 products. Other products like for instance IBM’s Watson or the offerings from Amazon on AWS can also be integrated. So, take a look at what AI can do for your business. Depending on your business and the kind of data or processes that you have you will choose the AI solution that is right for you.

If you’re not sure if your current Enterprise Service Bus or Enterprise Integrator Solution is up to the task, take a look at our Enterprise Service Bus selection guide that will help with requirements for your integration solution. Now or in the future.

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Picture of Ruben van der Zwan
Published January 8, 2019

Ruben van der Zwan

Ruben is CEO and founder of Yenlo. He is an IT visionary from the first hour, and always working on creating better ICT solutions. Ruben believes that with technology, we can bring the people in this world together and bring prosperity to everyone. Ruben is an evangelist of open source technology, integration platforms, and WSO2 in particular. He is a frequent speaker on international conferences.

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