What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) or cognitive computing involves the use of computer program code to control machines to mimic cognitive functions, such as learning, classification, and problem solving. AI is a technical field of computer science and includes machine learning and natural language processing.

Machine learning is the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning uses pattern recognition and computational statistics to process a set of training data. The data can be represented by various graph and network structures. For example, an artificial neural network or neural net is a system designed to process information by simulating the framework of biological brains. Human feedback or annotation facilitates this training process. A computer can predict or ”guess” the meaning of new data based on the training data set, graph and network structures, and feedback.

Machine learning adapts its programming based on the new data, results, and feedback. Machine learning can detect patterns in visual content such as photos and video frames, for object, audio and face recognition, for example. Natural language processing derives meaning, context, or sentiment in textual data using grammars and graph structures.

How Can AI Be Used With Social Media Content?

AI can efficiently process the massive amount of often unstructured user-generated content on social networks to understand meaning from the natural language and identify patterns. The user-generated content on social networks can be informal, stylized, and in specific formats (e.g. length restrictions for text content updates, size restrictions) making it difficult to process using traditional grammar rules. The network of user connections provide additional social structure input to an artificial intelligence engine. The user environment can be represented as graph structures for connections between users to understand social patterns and connections.

A facial recognition system can identify faces in digital photos or video frames to classify image content on a social network platform. The results can be used for annotations, personalized advertising, and trend detection. AI agents or robo-users communicate and interact with other users by understanding questions and providing answers. AI agents mimic human users for customer service and targeted data acquisition. AI agents can also provide a customized user experience tailored to the user’s unique data profile. AI can provide recommendations for content and user connections.

How Are Social Networking Companies Using AI?

Social network companies acquire large amounts of data including user-generated content, usage data, and structural connections between users. It is not surprising that most social network companies have internal artificial intelligence labs or ongoing collaborations with third-party experts to process the user data generated on their global platforms.

Current well-established commercial applications of AI including delivery of targeted advertising and recommendations. Other AI applications are continuously evolving in areas including monitoring, security, image and voice recognition, recommendations, and robot agents. Current AI agents are winning games of Jeopardy and Go against human experts. Even with these applications, the scientific field of cognitive computing is still relatively young.  Given the importance of data analytics, social network companies continue to invest in research and develop in AI to advance their processing and data mining capabilities.