How AI Is Being Used to Assist US Veterans – insideBIGDATA

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, has almost become a normal facet of modern life. It’s being used in many different sectors and industries to cut down on costs and time, allowing human workers to handle more complicated tasks and create more advancement. Meanwhile, the AI can handle menial or repetitive tasks, calculating factors instantly and doing more accurate work than a human could do. The team-up between man and machine is an old one, but only recently has it started to develop into an almost equal partnership.

AI can be used in every sector, including in the government and even Veterans Affairs, or the VA. With the limitless uses of AI, the United States VA is turning it into a tool to help the country’s veterans in many different ways. The VA didn’t have to change how AI worked to make it useful though. Instead, they embraced the AI we use in our everyday lives and shaped it into something a little more specific.

NLP & Big Data

NLP, or natural language processing, is the technology AIs use to understand what we type or speak to them. Basically, NLP is what makes tech like Alexa work. Without this technology, we would have to learn the AI’s language to interact with it. Instead, AI is taught how to understand ours. This quality is one of the many things that makes AI so convenient and useful, providing access for almost anyone. It’s also how AI has been able to blend into so many industries.

AI is able to understand our language because it has access to an insurmountable amount of information in the form of data. To make AI work correctly, the data has to be as accurate as possible for the given topic. For example, the VA uses the Million Veteran Program, or MVP, to collect health data on more than 750,000 veteran volunteers, making it one of the largest genomic databases in the world.

NAII

The National Artificial Intelligence Institute, or NAII, was established by the VA to advance the health and well-being of veterans. One of the NAII’s missions is to prioritize AI research in a form that’s meaningful for veterans. The NAII are the ones overseeing the MVP to make sure everything is accurate and runs smoothly.

According to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, “VA has a unique opportunity to be a leader in artificial intelligence. VA’s artificial intelligence institute will usher in new capabilities and opportunities that will improve health outcomes for our nation’s heroes.” Because of the large amount of data that can be collected from the VA and continuous research, the fact that the VA is close to leading the world in big data and AI isn’t too shocking.

Uses for AI Within the VA

AI is already being used in a wide range of goals within the VA. From suicide prevention to reducing wait times to interpreting test results, AI has become extremely beneficial at the VA, giving them ample incentive to continue their research. One of AI’s biggest triumphs in the VA has been helping Veterans adjust to civilian life after their service, especially since AI can always be available for anything these individuals need.

Part of the adjustment back to civilian life isn’t just day-to-day obstacles. Going to college and finding a career path is all part of the transition that the VA can help with. With all of the information that the VA’s AI can sort through, there are even topics covered about education and the job market. The military life is totally different from civilian life, with completely different jargon, backgrounds and marketable skills. AI provides a guide and service to help veterans learn and adjust to an unfamiliar and already harsh environment.

AI Changes the World

As time goes on, technology will get better and data will become more refined, leading to better AI. Artificial intelligence may never be perfect like we see in science fiction, but all we need is for it to be functional. Today, even though AI could be better, it’s plenty functional for the work we need. From providing information to handling tasks we don’t have the time to complete ourselves, AI is already making the average person’s life a little easier.

United States veterans are a specific target group to direct AI towards but also broad enough to cover an ample of topics and different types of people. With so much funding and a singular focus, the United States VA is one of the best organizations in the world to develop and do further research on AI. The technology has already come in use from those currently active in the military to those who have been Veterans for years. The incentive to keep developing AI is strong and will inevitably benefit the whole world.

About the Author

Caleb Danziger writes about big data, AI, cloud computing and the IoT. Read more from Caleb on The Byte Beat, his tech blog.

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