"RPA and AI are two distinct technologies that serve two distinct goals and have distinctive interfaces"
Today, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation are two of the most searched buzzwords in information technology right now. AI and RPA are hot in 2019. So, what is artificial intelligence? (AI) What is robotics process automation (RPA)? Are AI and RPA the same? What is the difference between AI and RPA? Read on to find out.
RPA and AI are two distinct technologies that serve two distinct goals and have distinctive interfaces. Although, one could make the assumption that artificial intelligence (AI) is a broader technology umbrella, and robotics process automation (RPA) can be considered a part of it. Yet, when many people are asked to talk about the difference between robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), they often confuse the two to be the same. What makes things worse, is many vendors use these terms interchangeably. While both are automation based technologies, AI and RPA are distinct in their use cases.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Very few concepts in information technology is as poorly misrepresented as artificial intelligence (AI) in 2019. Business leaders and technology vendors all have their own interpretation of it. So, what is the official definition of artificial intelligence? The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE SA) which has a diverse panel of industry experts, and operates with the motive of promoting consistency with the use of technology terminologies, published the definition of both RPA and AI in its June 2017 guide named- IEEE Guide for Terms and Concepts in Intelligent Process Automation.
The IEEE SA refers to the term “artificial intelligence” as “the grouping of cognitive automation, machine learning (ML), reasoning, hypothesis generation and analysis, natural language processing and intentional algorithm producing insights and analytics at or above what a human can.”
In more simple terms, AI can be defined as a wide branch of the computer science field that deals with building smart equipment (software, machine, robots, etc.) that can perform tasks that would otherwise typically require human intelligence. In short, AI is the branch of computer science that deals with simulation of human intelligence.
The Different Types of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With the recent growth of artificial intelligence (AI), it has branched out into several sub branches of itself.
What is Narrow AI? Narrow AI is AI that has limitations to its simulation of human behavior. Narrow AI or Weak AI is often used to simulate one task really well rather than learn as they go. While many of these AI based applications like Siri, might look intelligent, but they operate with a lot of limitations and sometimes even lack the most basic human intelligence.
What is Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)? Artificial General Intelligence is the kind of AI that uses machine learning to think more like an actual human being. AGI or Strong AI is often like the holy grail of AI for developers, like Skynet from Terminator.
What is Robotics Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a branch of AI technology that allows a human to a configure computer software or “bot” to capture and interpret data to process rule-based tasks like a transaction, data manipulation, response triggers and inter-system communications. RPA machines are usually much less complex than core AI systems.
Industrial Uses of RPA
Robotics process automation (RPA) has gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to its low start-up cost and ability to have massive cost benefits for companies with a faster ROI. What are some of the industrial uses of RPA? What are some of the benefits of RPA? Below we list some of the advantages of robotics process automation.
1) Business process automation: Robotics process automation can help automate back-office tasks in an organization across various departments like finance, supply chain management, customer service, accounting and HR. By automating manual labor intensive tasks like data entry and form fill-ups, robotics process automation can give companies instant benefits.
2) IT support and management: RPA can help automate processes within the IT environment of a company like service desk operations and network monitoring devices.
3) Automated assistant: Through voice recognition software or web-based online assistants RPA bots can provide instant replies to customers on a company’s website in natural human language. RPA can help reduce the need for large call centers and provide more data driven information with self-service to customers.
What is the difference between AI and RPA?
You have already learnt that AI is the broad branch of computer science that deals with various kinds of technologies that mimic human intelligence. RPA is one branch of AI, that is more concerned with simpler rule-based automation without the ability of cognitive thinking most of the time. At its core, RPA is a software robot that is built to mimic mundane human actions, whereas AI machines are built to simulate “human intelligence”.
AI vs RPA: Difference
RPA: RPA software or bots are rule-based. RPA bots are programmed with a set of instructions, and they follow the instructions to complete the tasks accordingly. Since RPA is rule-based, it has no “intelligence” of its own and is heavily dependent on humans to tell it what to do. But once programmed can do it faster than a human most of the time. RPA bots were built mostly to complement human workforce and not replace them.
AI: AI is always hungry for data and requires large amount of data to train itself to understand the underlying concept of things and systems. AI can “learn” over and over again using underlying technologies like machine learning (ML) and NLP.
AI vs RPA: Difference
RPA: RPA is heavily process driven. This means even though it can automate repetitive and rule-based processes and communicate with other IT systems, every aspect of it needs to be pre-programmed for the software bot to perform. RPA does not have the ability to turn unstructured information into structured ones.
AI: AI is data driven. AI machines are typically capable of decoding and restructuring unstructured data to manage variability and learn better with time.
AI vs RPA: Difference
RPA: RPA will keep doing exactly what you ask them to do over and over again. This means if there is any error in the initial input or code of your RPA software or RPA bot, it will keep repeating the same on a loop, until someone manually asks it not to and changes the code or instructions
AI: AI can perform cognitive processing. Artificial intelligence programs can adapt and evolve based on interactions with current and past data trends. AI is self-learning and can be coded or trained to “think” and take actions accordingly. Have time for another article? Try!
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