Will there become a future where technology is so necessary, so needed, and so fundamental to human functionality that there would be no way we could ever survive without it? Well, I’m afraid we have already reached that point in our history, and part of this exponential growth in technological dependability comes from the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short.
AI is a very complicated topic, and when the common person thinks of AI, they may think of computers, robot world domination, or employees losing jobs to automated machines. Luckily, experts in the field can exhibit scientific storytelling, or telling stories using scientific data (Ma, et al) to provide numerous visuals in order to more clearly emphasize the impact of AI in the world of science and technology. Below are five visuals that can make viewers either understand or better interpret the growth of AI and the relevance it has towards our society.
It is important to first understand what exactly AI is. In short, AI is a branch of computer science that deals with the stimulation of intelligent behavior in computers (Interesting Engineering). There are actually two types of AI: Artificial General Intelligence (where computers learn and process information just like humans do) and Narrow AI (which is meant for a more sepcific use, such as self-driving cars) [Gidney]. Even though AGI is not fully realized yet, there are still plenty of roles AI plays in its “narrow” form.
The visual above is what Dr. Bill Dennison would call a conceptual diagram. According to him, these diagrams become relevant by portraying key features and when a photo alone cannot capture what is trying to be explained. This is a side tree diagram that better explains the types of uses AI currently has in our society and what categories each use falls under. Each category is also color coded and very close to each other, which reference Gestalt’s principles of both similarity and proximity, stating that objects appear as a group is they are similar in nature (color, in this case), and close together (Bonner). These principles help better understand a viewer’s perception of the topic because it allows the viewer to see not only all of the categories AI has built, but the more common uses that the average person may be familiar with. Had all of these terms been laid out in text instead, viewers would struggle to differentiate the uses of AI under certain broad categories such as machine learning and natural language processing. This concept diagram is a wonderful example of a user-centered design, as it was constructed “with consideration for the personal preferences, cognitive abilities and value systems of the audience” (Estrada, et al).
What about the revenue? Has AI been good for business? Surely its dangerous implications cast fear amongst corporations which causes them to shy away from such technology, right? Well, if you looked at the graph above, would you believe the answer to the last question is actually yes? Of course, not! You do not even have to see any of the numbers to know that businesses and corporations are increasingly adapting AI technology into their ecosystems.
Dennison believes that graphs and data orientation can provide a clear depiction of the information that is being visualized. The graphical properties of size, orientation and color are used effectively in this chart in order to make the data more noticeable to the eye and valuable to the user (IDF). Graphs can be very tricky to visualize correctly without any chance of misinterpretation, and although this specific graph uses estimated data for future years, it is all compiled in a very familiar and simple graph that is more accurately interpreted by the user (Watson, 7).
A map, as Dennison points out, are effective because they “contain minimal extraneous information while providing geographical reference points.” This is not a map of AI use across Africa, unfortunately, but rather, it is an AI-powered map of the population density of Africa. This map was also provided by Facebook, one of the largest tech corporations in the world, in an effort to more easily identify which parts of Africa have the highest population density and which parts of Africa are uninhabited. These maps are aimed “to support the efforts of humanitarian aid and relief agencies” by allowing those to figure out which areas of Africa need to be visited (Mzekandaba).
While the graph itself has nothing to do with AI, it is important to note that AI can be used around the world for potentially life saving reasons, and developing the ability for AI to create these maps that now allow scientists to get access to the “information in a form they can take in and digest quickly” (Estrada, et al).
The following visual is a video provided by Interesting Engineering that breaks down the definition of AI, its uses, and the potential it has towards our future. This video also covers a few controversial topics by AI and explains why some of them should be used in a more positive light instead.
Dennison says that videos can “illustrate processes or provide an overview of the system,” which is exactly what this video is doing. It allows viewers to get a much easier grasp on the applications and examples of AI by providing a soothing VoiceOver narration, correct English subtitles, and video b-roll in the background that aligns with that the narrator is saying at the correct moment. This visual has all three elements needed in order to provide a much clearer interpretation of the data and information: labels, video, and an explanation (Ma, et al).
One of the major arguments against the incorporation of AI is that it will take up all of the automated jobs and force a lot of people out of work. This video above claims that despite these claims, AI will actually “allow humans to switch to more skillful jobs that will require just a bit more learning” and will not only eliminate any direct competition against AI, but will allow humans to get more work done while receiving more time for themselves (Interesting Engineering).
After all of these visuals, it seems as though AI is not much of an issue after all, but rather our source of untapped potential for the future. The last type of visual that Dennison mentions is a photo, such as the one above. Photos, according to Dennison, can illustrate key attributes and aid comprehension. While not much quantitative data can be interpreted from this photo, we can look at the colors and objects to uncover the hidden message. The use of blues and whites throughout this photo reflect safety, reliability, cleanliness and virtue (Cao), which in turn reflects a positive message. The dozens of mathematical expressions on a chalk board with a human AI robot working on the problem suggest that the message has to do with school/education and AI. A positive message about education and AI can only mean that AI is improving education for many students. Alyssa Johnson writes that AI provides personalized learning to students so students who are either smarter than average or slower than average can go at their own pace with customized assignments and exams, which is really beneficial towards the future of student knowledge, and it’s all thanks to the power of AI.
AI is a topic that has really fascinated me, and I had a blast getting to learn more about it by looking at various visuals that depict AI in such a positive light. AI is still considered an issue in society because of the poor trust that some of the general public has with these robots and how quickly they are learning. As Interesting Engineering states in their video, most people use AI multiples times a day and do not even notice it. It was therefore necessary to find various visuals that show how positive and influential AI can be in our society, and by looking at some of these visuals, it is worth getting excited over the future this technology has in store for us.
Bonner, Carolann. “Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions.” Thoughtbot, 23 Mar, 2019. https://thoughtbot.com/blog/gestalt-principles
Cao, Jerry. “Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design.” TheNextWeb, 7 Apr, 2015. https://thenextweb.com/dd/2015/04/07/how-to-create-the-right-emotions-with-color-in-web-design/
Dennison, Bill. Practical visual literacy for scientific communication.” Integration and Application Network, 28 Mar, 2017, https://ian.umces.edu/blog/2017/03/28/practical-visual-literacy-for-science-communication/
Estrada, Fabiola Cristina Rodriguez and Lloyd Spencer Davis. Improving Visual Communication of Science Through the Incorporation of Graphic Design Theories and Practices into Science Communication. SAGE Publications, 2014.
Gidney, Kevin. “Understanding Artificial intelligence (AI).” Seal Software, 16 Apr, 2020. https://www.seal-software.com/blog/understanding-artificial-intelligence-ai/
Johnson, Alyssa. “5 Ways AI is Changing the Education Industry.” eLearning Industry, 6 Feb, 2019. https://elearningindustry.com/ai-is-changing-the-education-industry-5-ways
Ma, Kwan-Liu, et al. Scientific Storytelling Using Visualization. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 2 Jan, 2012. http://vis.cs.ucdavis.edu/papers/Scientific_Storytelling_CGA.pdf
Mzekendaba, Simnikiwe. “Facebook maps out Africa using artificial intelligence.” ITWeb, 11 Apr, 2019. https://itweb.africa/content/j5alrvQaJ6yvpYQk
“Visual Mapping – The Elements of Information Visualization.” Interaction Design Foundation. Jul, 2020. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/visual-mapping-the-elements-of-information-visualization
Watson, Hugh J. Data Visualization, Data Interpreters, and Storytelling. Business Intelligence Journal, 2017. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/52905528/Watson__Data_Visualization.pdf?1493647286=&response-content-disposition=inline%3B+filename%3DData_Visualization_Data_Interpreters_and.pdf&Expires=1600029845&Signature=SsBhk8mxLQ6IUAe4xQRovAfJs2mTWL4qySar3aFWoet5BOTWYe3TQY9~8Vt~6mKNqBMR8tSD0jgLzBfy3wVNobrQOonaeEaKqu43I1ssMdDRs-1noQw2TGRcSFIdp3GtUTZ7FgaP1b4-whVGrxx9usvLtZ3gKCCaRM1ar4pHRHCjP~Co2hrszxBhK~UvsEZ~YxIQbZY-H-d~Ny-D2kRKCLWd4kWUm-5SVsh2e7cK-xWl~4h83wKfZJzpWfsuluxU5HBt1JK7E43u~6HV86av-dvAz9UUENwXWsIitFnAUkLecCP5a8OHPE2rQmlpz4htCrI2QjTtk6Wv768NCiQo-g__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA
“What is AI? How and when is it going to have an impact on our lives?” YouTube, uploaded by Interesting Engineering, 6 Jun, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aNW08ahM68