AI and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence

We hear AI term more and more these days, but it’s easy to misunderstand it just following the mass media hype. It has nothing to do with conscious machines – no one knows how to build one of those yet.

What is AI?

AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. Such simulation includes:

  • Reasoning – using rules to reach solid or approximate conclusions
  • Learning­ – acquiring information and rules for using information
  • Self-correction

Expert systems, speech recognition and machine vision, in particular, have been early and prominent beneficiaries of AI.

AI is typically described as being either weak or strong. Weak (or narrow) AI refers to a system that’s been built to focus on one task alone. A virtual assistant like Alexa is one type of weak AI. Strong AI, also referred to as artificial general intelligence, tries to generally mimic human cognitive abilities. So, if you give it a task that hasn’t seen before, a strong AI system can work its way through it without needing any further human assistance.

Paying for the people you need to run AI and the hardware itself can cost a lot, so companies are now offering Artificial Intelligence as a Service ( AIaaS ) platforms. AI as a Service is appealing from a cost point of view because it lets businesses audition different operators and discover whether AI is worth it for them, for less than if they had to commit fully.

Services like IBM Watson AssistantAmazon AI services, Microsoft Cognitive Services and Google AI services have all found favour in this growing sector. Many companies have been quick to seize on the business potential of using autonomous systems to aid their processes, but this new frontier brings some ethical questions with it. Many of the most advanced AI tools use deep learning algorithms which analyse existing data. Unfortunately, they can only be as clever (or moral) as the information that they are given. AI systems used in American healthcare to help manage treatment were found to systematically discriminate against black people, and there are many other examples besides.

Some of the top minds in the industry think that artificial intelligence might be the wrong term to use for this particular technology. It’s hard to dispel the image of created by numerous science fiction stories of rogue robots turning on their masters or stealing everyone’s jobs, and along with these unfounded fears it’s also difficult to separate the term from unrealistic expectations. AI systems aren’t alive and they don’t have feelings, so perhaps a term like ‘augmented intelligence’, which sounds more neutral, might be better at helping people to accept and understand these tools.

Types of Artificial Intelligence

Arend Hintze is an assistant professor of integrative biology and computer science and engineering at Michigan State University. He divides AI into four categories:

Reactive Machines

The chess computer Deep Blue (which beat Garry Kasparov in the 1990s) Deep Blue understands the game and can make predictions, although it doesn’t have any memory and can’t make predictions based on past experiences. It simply works out all the possible moves that are available to itself and its opponent and selects the one that is most strategically beneficial. Deep Blue and Google’s AlphaGO were both built to fulfil these tasks alone, so you can’t expect them to suggest your workout playlist or the movies you might like on Netflix.

Restricted Memory

These AI systems are able to use previous experiences to inform their decisions, which is why you’ll find some of these decision-making functions in self-driving cars. They can use what they see to inform future actions, like when a car might be about to change lanes. These observations are only held temporarily.

Theory of Mind

This term from psychology refers to the acknowledgement that others have their own beliefs, wants and goals that influence their decisions. This type of AI doesn’t exist yet.

Self-awareness

This kind of machine can say “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) and mean it. There are no self-aware machines (that we know of!) as yet.

Examples of AI Technology

Here are seven examples of where AI has been incorporated into various types of technology.

Automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is ideal for automating repeatable tasks. It can do it with more intelligence than IT automation can manage, adapting to changing circumstances without the need for further human intervention.

Machine Learning

This is the science of having a computer act without anyone needing to program it. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that, in crude terms, can be described as the automation of predictive analytics. There are three kinds of machine learning algorithms:

  • Supervised learning: where data sets are labeled so that patterns can be detected and used to label new data sets
  • Unsupervised learning: data sets aren’t labeled and are arranged according to their similarities or differences
  • Reinforcement learning: data sets aren’t labelled, but after an action or a number of actions have been performed, the AI system gets feedback

Machine Vision

A camera gives visual information to the computer, which analyses it using sophisticated algorithms. It can see far beyond the range of human sight and can be used for anything from identifying signatures to analysing medical images. Computer vision, which focuses on image processing, is a term that is often used interchangeably with machine vision, although they are distinct areas.

Natural language processing (NLP)

NLP is using human computers to understand language. The best-known use for NLP is probably spam detection. It looks at email text using a machine learning approach and makes a good job of deciding whether it’s spam. NLP tasks include translating text, analysis of sentiment and recognising speech.

Robotics

Robots are most often used for repetitive tasks that are too difficult or dangerous for humans to perform either well enough or consistently enough. Many robots are used on car assembly lines, performing assembly tasks that include very precise welding. There are also efforts being made to build robots that can interact socially.

Self-driving cars

Self-driving cars combine computer vision, image recognition and deep learning to react to other traffic, keep the car in its lane, avoid collisions and so on.

AI Applications

There are six areas where artificial intelligence has found use:

Healthcare

Companies are hoping to improve patient care and cut costs by using machine learning to diagnose illnesses more accurately and more quickly than humans can. IBM Watson is one of the best-known examples of this technology. It understands language well enough to answer questions. It trawls through patient data and other sources to generate a hypothesis and will give a score to indicate how confident it is with its conclusion.

Other AI Applications Include Chatbots

They can simulate a human assistant and can help with making follow-up appointments or helping patients through the billing process, along with more general healthcare advice.

Business

Robotic process automation helps speed up repetitive tasks that people normally perform, and machine learning algorithms can analyse the interactions in CRM platforms to find better ways of serving customers. Chatbots can speed up customer service for some tasks that don’t require human assistance and there is speculation that in the future some jobs could be replaced by AI.

Education

AI can grade work and free up educators to get on with teaching. It can assess students and adapt to their needs so that they can work at their own pace. AI tutors can give extra student support, leading to more consistent progress. AI is changing how students learn and may even replace teachers in some areas.

Finance

AI applications like Mint or TurboTax take personal data and use it to offer financial advice and assistance. Programs like IBM Watson have even assisted with home buying, and AI has long been used to assist with Wall Street trading.

Law

The discovery process involves poring over piles of documents; so many that it can easily become overwhelming for the people doing it, which makes it a process that is ripe for automation. Start-ups have been creating question-and-answer computer assistants that can sift through programmed-to-answer questions by examining the taxonomy and ontology associated with a database.

Manufacturing

Industrial robots have been around for a long time, helping to manufacture cars since the 1950s, and they’ve grown more sophisticated as technology has advanced.

Web Hosting

In the present time custom AI solutions can handle:

  • scaling and predicting traffic spikes to ensure smooth user experience
  • managing workloads and ensuring uptime
  • adjusting automatically dedicated resources as memory, CPU and I/O to improve server performance
  • protecting the servers from brute-force attacks

Ethics and Security Concerns

Self-driving cars have pushed AI usage into the news. How ethical is it to allow such a potentially dangerous device as a car to drive itself, when it could be hacked and used to deliberately harm people? And who bears for the responsibility when it’s involved in an accident? What if the AI cannot avoid harming others while thinking it’s making the best decision?

Deep learning has found its way into the news as well, as it’s been used to generate deepfakes. These videos are realistic fabrications that show people saying and doing things that have never happened. At the very least, repressive regimes could use this technology to discredit people who they wish to suppress.

Regulating AI Technology

Even though AI presents so many potential risks, its speed of progression has outstripped the abilities of legislators to match it with appropriate safeguards.

Laws do exist but they tend to be quite specific, as in the case of federal Fair Lending regulations. These require financial institutions to explain credit decisions to would-be customers, which limits how much lenders can rely on deep learning algorithms to inform their decisions because they are opaque by their nature. Europe’s GDPR puts strict limits on how enterprises can use consumer data, which holds back the training and functionality of many consumer-facing AI applications.

How AI is disrupting the Web Hosting industry

Web Hosting industry and AI

Artificial Intelligence is transforming industries worldwide – with the web hosting industry following the trend in high spirits. By harnessing the benefits of AI, Plesk is helping hosters to streamline routine tasks, reduce workloads, and consistently improve service quality. Ultimately enhancing these hosting companies’ productivity and profits. Let’s explore, thanks to our latest web hosting industry news, how you too can leverage AI for your business.

More time to increase productivity

more time to increase productivity - How AI is disrupting the web hosting industry - Plesk

The competition in the hosting industry is getting tougher. So, companies need to quickly adopt new technologies and constantly upgrade their skills if they want to survive. However, daily routine tasks leave very little room for that. AI is the perfect solution here because it can:

  1. Independently capture current stats, data and analysis, evaluate it and convert it into comprehensive key reports. Then send it to companies and clients- almost instantly.
  2. Efficiently update software, allocate resources, implement the load balancer and adjust settings to sync with changing requirements. All with little to no human intervention.
  3. Ensure optimum site performance in order to keep clients happy.
  4. Help hosting companies widen their reach by exploring new trends, web hosting industry news and market needs.
  5. Enhance service quality, and thus increase customer loyalty via support, amongst other things.

Failsafe security

Layered Security - CloudLinux Cyber Security strategy 2019 - Plesk

The increasing number of security threats has alarmed businesses of all sizes. They now demand more robust security to tackle the latest hacking tricks that traditional security methods just can’t. AI platforms can effectively identify suspicious patterns, even when smartly hidden in the code or on a remote website.

AI not only detects the most minute of changes, but also learns to handle them by itself. This is quicker and more efficient than simply alerting you – and can minimize costly damage. Moreover, it can evolve over time, constantly boosting its capability of dealing with the latest security threats.

Stable performance during fluctuations

Stable performance during fluctuations

Advanced monitoring and detection equip AI platforms with dependable prediction skills. So they can anticipate upcoming fluctuations – like traffic surges, overloading, and technical issues. This helps maintain maximum uptime, and boost performance and speed – the core factors to enhance user experience.

Improved experience for your customers strengthens their relationship and encourages them to stick to your brand for future needs. Like upgrades and value-added services. Plesk is one of many reputable platforms to offer automation for specific hosting packages, like AI tools for WordPress hosting management.

Better customer experience

Better customer experience - Hosting industry and AI

Customer service plays a key role in this hosting business, but the help section or knowledge base have their limitations. They can fail to resolve the more complicated issues, thus overloading your support staff. AI-powered chatbots can better interact with clients and offer precise solutions to resolve their issues.

Advanced AI can employ technology that quickly recognizes the customers and sifts through their history and records for key info. Overall helping to resolve more queries in less time – enriching customer experiences while helping to increase your productivity.

Moreover, AI helps develop business-friendly infrastructure tools for web hosting providers to enjoy scalability, customizable features and innovative functionalities.

The multiple benefits AI offers the web hosting industry

AI’s advanced technology can streamline the tasks, save time and efforts, enhance security and deliver better client experience. Moreover, there are various open source AI tools available free of cost – offering premium enterprise capabilities. Making them an ideal option for beginners and small hosting companies on limited budget.

Plesk also offers such capabilities at low costs – many a time with free versions available. Get in touch to find out more about how Plesk experts can help you tailor a solution that fits your business.

Why our WP Toolkit now has Smart Updates powered by AI

Plesk WP Toolkit Smart Updates

More than 60k websites are victims of hacking every day. And since WordPress is the most popular CMS for building websites, it makes sense that these sites become the preferred target for malicious attacks. What about you – are you covered? Your current practices may be insufficient. Here’s where Smart Updates by AI come in. Available now on the latest WP Toolkit version.

Lack of WordPress updates: The danger is real

Each WordPress update contains important security notifications that make it harder for you and your sites to get hacked. But many users don’t keep WordPress up-to-date. Why? Wed can’t just nail it down to the WordPress community’s lack of care or effort to keep their sites secure and updated. Because that’s simply not true.

So, what is it that holds back certain updates? Well, web professionals and agencies alike know that every update implies the risk of breaking sites, causing downtime and making a lot of customers unhappy. And no one wants that!

Let’s cut out the middleman

Additionally, like many other administrative tasks, running WordPress updates is quite time-consuming. Especially if you do your best to mitigate potential risks. If you want to do it right, you need to:

  1. Create a back-up of your WordPress instances
  2. Copy WordPress to a test stage
    – because you should never apply changes to a production system!
  3. Run the update
  4. Test
  5. Push to production
  6. Test again
  7. Clean up
  8. Potentially more annoying stuff

There must be a simpler process, right? And there is folks! We thought of a smarter way to complete this important task while simplifying the lives of web professionals.

Introducing Smart Updates on Plesk’s WP Toolkit

Plesk Smart Updates powered by Deep Learning technologies makes it as easy as pie to stay secure and keep your WordPress sites up-to-date. Smart Updates run a staged simulation to analyze and verify the compatibility of each available update. It compares the before-after screenshots to check for differences, before applying the update to your production environment.

How Smart Updates works on WP Toolkit

Turn it on and let Smart Updates check whether the planned update will break your production site or is good to go. If an issue gets detected, WP Toolkit will send an Email comprising of an exact description of the issue and including corresponding screenshots.

It’s then completely up to you how you wish to proceed: apply the changes or simply reject them. Smart Updates will always send an alert in case of unwanted line breaks, missing pages or corrupt imagery and videos.

This feature is all part of the new Plesk Onyx update – generally available from April 10, 2018!