AI Education

What is AI, and Why Does it Matter to COMMON?


by @Gordon Leary

AI, or Artificial Intelligence , is not that scary machine that you saw in that movie last night. AI uses algorithms and data to solve problems , or find answers . Through continued use of these algorithms, we amass more data, and make our machines smarter, and deliver better business results . AI is used in many aspects of our lives today – from search engines to recommendation engines to digital assistants, to weather forecasting – AI is part of our lives, and it is now even more accessible for businesses than ever before

AI has many forms, of which machine learning is what we are most familiar with today. Machine learning consists of teaching a machine to accomplish a particular task through data analysis. This type of AI is good at that task but cannot typically transfer the learned skills to other tasks.

Speech recognition is another form of AI, which consists of natural language processing engines. We see this in our everyday lives with engines for voice-to-text and language translation, or using Google or Alexa to be specific. We can also use this type of AI to convert speech to searchable data, which can then be used in machine learning engines. Image analysis is another form of AI. Successful image analysis requires a vast amount of training, typically involving connecting searchable data to similar images. This is accomplished by users entering data over time. Insurance companies have started using image analysis to determine claims for example.

So, why is AI important to COMMON? The simple answer goes back to our mission statement - enhancing the careers of our members. COMMON already contains the largest volume and breadth of education material for the IBM i community that has been amassed over the past 60 years. AI continues to become more readily accessible, and offers options for all types of organizations, and COMMON intends to use AI to provide even greater benefits to our members. Through AI, we are looking at providing a solution that will make all the education and content we have amassed even more readily accessible and more relevant, so that you can find answers to your questions quickly in our library of content. A future article will detail how COMMON will be using AI to enhance your career though education.

COMMON has a dedicated group of volunteers that are developing and learning AI techniques and processes. We are committed to showing our members the road COMMON has traveled on our AI journey, so that you can see what it takes for a small business to implement an AI solution. We will be discussing how we developed the plan, the intent of AI, all the pieces involved in seeking an AI solution, data needs, and how we executed the plan. The goal is to help our members develop their own roadmap to wards an AI solution by providing examples and education, through our own AI journey to provide you even greater benefits of belonging to the COMMON community.  

AI holds a lot of promise for businesses of all sizes, not just large entities with large budgets. AI solutions will continue to evolve and become pervasive, so as IT professionals, it is important that we can learn more about tools today that can deliver success to our businesses tomorrow.  AI can be that tool that gives you the competitive advantage to provide even greater value to your business.  Continue to follow COMMON and the AI journey that we have started. We will learn together, educate each other, and continue to enhance the careers of the entire community.

Gordon is the IT Manager of AMPORTS, Inc. and has been involved with the IBM midrange community since 1987. AMPORTS is an automotive port processor with locations in the US and Mexico. Gordon has attended COMMON conferences since 1988, and in the last several years, he has participated on several committees including Communications and Networking, Volunteer Recruitment and the GoTo Market task force. Gordon earned his degree in Computer Science from Towson State University.​​