The AI “Blackbox” Explained

We’ll talk about some of the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence, which are the most relevant for Product Development and Product Thinking.

Remco van Akker


Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

The AI Basics

Before jumping into the three components of AI, let’s talk about why it’s important to understand how AI really works. First, you can’t manage what you don’t understand. Hopefully, that’s self-explanatory. If AI is powering your product, and potentially your company’s success, not understanding how it works means you’re not set up to be successful in your job.

For non-AI engineers, there’s a tendency to think of AI as this “black box”. For background, the term AI, Artificial Intelligence, was invented in the ’50s and has been researched heavily ever since. The biggest recent change in AI has not been the algorithms but rather the computing power and better proliferation enabling those algorithms to scale and reach incredible results.

Let’s talk about how Artificial Intelligence really works, and to keep it simple, we’ll only focus on the three main components of AI that I think you should know!

Number one, the objective.

What is the task you want your algorithm to learn? Remember that ultimately, AI learns to achieve a certain objective.

What is your objective?

It can be anything from predicting the stock market performance to knowing which movies you like. It’s all about what you set up your algorithm to achieve by learning.

Number two, the algorithm.

There are different types of AI algorithms that are used for different use cases. How will your algorithm learn? For example, the type of algorithm that is used to suggest films on Netflix is different than the one that is used for Driver on Phone Recognition.

Number three, the data. AI learns from examples, both past examples, and real-time examples, and those data samples are what fuels the algorithm to achieve its objective.

For example, if we’re trying to predict the stock market performance, we would need a lot of diverse data points from various sources like interest-rate increases or…