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What Is Generative AI?

Generative AI is revolutionizing the way we live and work. This type of artificial intelligence uses neural networks and deep learning algorithms to identify patterns within existing data to then generate original content. From artistic expression to data science, this technology is already reshaping the world. In this article, we’ll share what generative AI is, exactly, and how it differs from more traditional applications of artificial intelligence technologies. We’ll also explore several ways it's being used to solve problems for businesses and consumers.

What Is Generative AI and What Can It Do?

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Generative AI, a form of artificial intelligence, analyzes extensive data to identify patterns and then produce diverse content, such as text, audio, and video. Generative AI algorithms are designed to mimic the human brain’s ability to think and create. By learning patterns from existing data, these algorithms synthesize knowledge to create original content. Beyond content, Generative AI may change the way humans (and other machines) interface with software—potentially replacing point-and-click interactions with voice or text commands, questions that can activate tasks, or even complex workflows in enterprise software. With its seemingly uncanny ability to imitate human creativity, this technology is being deployed across many consumer and business applications. 

Generative AI vs. Other Types of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been in use for years. It is an important part of now-familiar applications, including customer service chatbots, digital assistants, predictive maintenance programs, and medical imaging software that helps physicians spot difficult-to-detect medical conditions. Although traditional AI, which includes machine learning and deep learning, remains an essential part of modern life, generative AI represents a major step forward. 

Traditional artificial intelligence uses multiple approaches but the majority of them are based on predictive models designed to observe and classify data within a specific context. After being trained to recognize patterns, these algorithms can accurately predict outcomes. For example, we use predictive models to determine the likelihood that a patient will develop a certain type of disease, whether a customer will leave a brand for a competitor, or how market trends are likely to impact demand for a particular product or service. 

Generative AI models break new ground, using advanced deep learning techniques to generate entirely new outputs rather than simply making predictions based on prior experience. These advances rely partly on new approaches to how models are trained, including semi-supervised and unsupervised learning. This shift from prediction to creation opens up exciting possibilities for innovation.

Generative AI in Action

Generative AI’s transformative potential is reshaping ways of working and expanding the boundaries of innovation and creativity. Here are seven examples of how this technology is being used today.

Data generation and augmentation

Building successful machine learning models typically necessitates massive amounts of training data. In some circumstances, the volume of real-world data required is difficult or impossible to obtain. When an organization lacks adequate quantities of data to train its machine learning models, generative AI can create synthetic data that closely resembles real-world data. Additional data generated in this way can prove useful in improving the performance and generalization of ML models.

Data search and discovery

Generative AI is rapidly changing the data search experience, unlocking conversational paradigms to ask questions and retrieve information. Using generative AI, data users can shift from direct development of code or use of point-and-click tools to bring data together to be manually shaped. The AI approach would have users asking direct questions that a large language model (LLM) then uses to quickly analyze an application’s underlying data model and precisely pinpoint the right data asset or data insight.

Personalized marketing

Generative AI can provide intelligent personalized product recommendations, offers, and experiences that sync with an individual user’s preferences and needs. In addition, with the ability to generate custom content, the content can be further personalized across all mediums, from images to video and even text used in conversations. 

New product design

Generative AI can generate virtual prototypes and conduct simulations based on multiple scenarios. This makes it useful for product development, architecture, and engineering applications, allowing businesses to virtually create product designs and evaluate their performance prior to investing the time and resources required to create physical prototypes.

Content and creative materials

Generative AI’s capacity to generate original content can help teams create collateral for marketing, advertising, or social media campaigns. Examples include personalized product descriptions or marketing emails and social media posts. Its ability to create graphics can fuel the design process, providing inspiration for product packaging, logos, and other creative content.

Improving search results

In the past, search engines simply evaluated a website’s authority based on a variety of factors, including relevance to the search term, page quality, and numerous other proprietary markers. Modern search engines take their algorithms further and use generative AI to generate short-form content based on a search query, provide a list of suggested follow-up questions for clarification, and offer a list of website links for further exploration. 

Conversational AI

Generative AI models can enhance the effectiveness of chatbots or virtual assistants by providing natural language interactions that mirror how humans converse with one another. These models are able to understand and generate human-like responses that provide faster, more responsive support, helping businesses quickly resolve customer support requests. 

Snowflake + Neeva: Introducing AI-Supported Intelligent Data Search and Discovery

Snowflake is incorporating generative AI into data as search is fundamental to how businesses interact with data, and the search experience is evolving rapidly. Conversational paradigms are changing the way we ask questions and retrieve information. With generative AI, teams can discover precisely the right data point, data asset, or data insight, making it possible to maximize the value of their data. That’s why Snowflake acquired Neeva, a search company founded to make search even more intelligent at scale. Neeva created a unique and transformative search experience that leverages generative AI and other innovations to allow users to query and discover data in new ways.

Neeva allows us to tap into some of the most cutting-edge search technologies available, and Snowflake will infuse and leverage these innovations across enterprise data in the Data Cloud to benefit our customers, partners, and developers. 

In addition, Snowflake’s acquisition of Streamlit for building and sharing data apps and Applica for deep learning are adding even more advanced AI features to the Data Cloud. See Snowflake’s capabilities for yourself. To give it a test drive, sign up for a free trial

Learn more: Using Snowflake and Generative AI to Rapidly Build Features