Artificial Intelligence in libraries

Artificial Intelligence in libraries

Partha Pratim Mazumder

(The writer can be reached at

The first Industrial Revolution attempted to create machines that could replace man’s physical power. Industrialization has transformed the society totally but brought immediate crises in its later stages. There are machines that can outperform human beings. Over the centuries, man’s working ability and thinking process have seen a sea change. Society is becoming increasingly centered on information handling, processing, storage and dissemination, using microelectronic-based technologies. Today’s computers can stimulate many human capabilities such as reading, grasping, calculating, speaking, remembering, comparing numbers, drawing, making judgments, and even interactive learning. Researchers are still working to expand these capabilities — therefore the power of computers by developing hardware and software that can initiate intelligent human behaviour. Researchers are working on the systems that have the ability to reason, to learn or accumulate knowledge to strive for self-improvement, and to stimulate human sensory and mechanical capabilities. Experts are convinced that it is now only a matter of time that the present generation will experience the impact and utility of new applications based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in offices, factories, libraries and homes.

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way from its early roots, driven by dedicated researchers. The expression ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ was introduced as a “digital” replacement for the analog ‘Cybernetics’. AI began as an experimental field with pioneers like George Boole (1815-1864), Allen Newell and Herbert Simon, who founded the first Artificial Intelligence laboratory. The emergence of a new field called ‘Cybernetics’ which has been coined and founded by Norbert Wisner brought together many parallels between human beings and machine. Cybernetics is the study of communication between human being and machine. General Artificial Intelligence is the subfield of Computer Science, and is concerned with understanding the nature of intelligence and constructing computer systems capable of intelligence action.

AI embodies the dual motives of furthering basic scientific understanding and making computers more sophisticated in the services of humanity. AI is the study of mental faculties through the use of computational models. AI mainly focuses on understanding and performing intelligent tasks such as reasoning, learning new skills and adopting to new situations and problems. AI is a combination of computer science, psychology, and philosophy. It is concerned with the concept and methods of symbolic inferences by computer and the symbolic representation of knowledge to be used in making inferences. The most popular AI programmes are the expert systems, which are computer programmes that embody human mention of AI which creates vision of electro-mechanical devices replacing human beings. Thousands of rules and facts make up the AI programmes and these programmes process ideas and knowledge, not members, in several different ways.

Mainly computers provide the perfect medium for the experimentation and application of AI technology in the present era. AI has more success at intellectual tasks such as computer based game playing and theorem proving than perceptual tasks. These computer programmes are intended to stimulate human behaviour and they are built for technological applications also such as Computer-Aided Instruction (CAI). In a few cases, the main goal is to find any technique that does the task quicker and in a better way. As AI is put to work, some believe that humans will be freed to spend more time playing. It may be that robots aren’t coming to steal our jobs; maybe they are coming to free us from our jobs. If AI comes to take on much of the work we do, it is possible that we would have more time to play, create, and discover. The identities and our sense of meaning may be tied to the work we do, but if that work goes away, we might look to find, invest, and invent meaning elsewhere. It may be that meaning will come in the form of virtual reality, games, or a resurgence of religion.

The libraries are a social space. We should espouse the virtues of community and creativity. The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has written about the importance of play. It offers meeting spaces and programmes. The ALA (American Library Association) has a gaming roundtable that exists to “support the value of gaming and play in libraries.”

If an AI revolution means humans will be working less, we will be looking for ways to spend all of that newfound free time. We will get lost in fiction, connect to other humans in our community, or take up a hobby. We will want to volunteer, play, or create. Maybe the library will be well-positioned to help humans find new meaning.

Advantages of Artificial Intelligence

Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence

Libraries provide a set of principles that have helped to guide intellectual growth in the past century. In the age of AI, those principles are more relevant than ever. Libraries are not the centres of information world anymore; and the new players don’t always share our values. When machine-learning proliferates, what steps can we take to ensure that the values of librarianship are incorporated into the AI systems? It should be directed not at maintaining traditional librarianship, but in influencing the development of the emerging information systems that may come to replace us. Numerous applications of AI have been deployed, and these have demonstrated the features of saving time, providing money to various sectors like business, industry, scientific, academic and military besides research organizations. AI applications and their utilities will be increasing day by day in many IT-oriented educational institutions which are contributing AI related recorded information on its AI technology and its utilities in various areas/subject fields. The successes in expert systems, natural language processing, pattern recognition, and robotics have precipitated substantial commercial activity, including the formation of many ventures. Practicability of AI in areas like cataloguing, classification, documentation, and collection development among others appears to be improving with each passing year. In the near future AI will occupy in all the spheres with the introduction of competent models with AI techniques. The Library and Information Science will be greatly benefited by the development of the efficient expert system for technical services as well as Information processing and management.

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