From self-driving cars to virtual assistants, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an essential part of our lives. But what exactly is this technology, and why do so many people want to use it for their own benefit?
Before we jump into how AI works, let’s consider what the goal of any AI system is.
“ To date, machine learning algorithms have been primarily developed by humans for human purposes,”
says Dr. John McCarthy, who coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ back in 1956.
“However, as these techniques become more widely used, they will be applied to tasks previously performed by humans.”
So, if AI can learn to perform tasks that were previously done by human experts, then what is the purpose of such technology?
McCarthy defines AI as
“the study or practice of making intelligent machines.”
In terms of practical applications, AI can be used to help us make decisions—whether in our personal lives or at work. An example of this could be something like Siri, which uses natural language processing and machine learning to answer questions, find relevant information, and provide suggestions based on your interactions.
One of the most common ways AI systems are used today is in the form of computer vision. Cameras are now ubiquitous devices, but they’re not perfect—sometimes they don’t see things clearly enough, or they simply fail to pick up certain objects. These issues can be addressed using AI.
For example, when you take a photo of your smartphone, you probably expect it to display all the details captured by the camera to you. However, there might be some parts of the image that aren’t clear enough to be displayed. AI can detect these objects, and even add them to the final image file.
A Brief History Of AI
A major turning point in the development of AI was the publication of Alan Turing’s 1950 paper titled ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’. In this document, Turing laid out his theory of AI, where machines would need to pass tests designed to evaluate their ability to think and reason like humans.
Turing’s test involved attempting to create an algorithm capable of passing a set of logical puzzles (he called them “imitation games”) designed to examine both logic and creativity. The first game he devised involved identifying whether two words had the same meaning. He came to the conclusion that no single person could ever design a program that could solve this problem, and thus concluded that AI would never be possible.
Over time, however, researchers have created programs that can successfully play games like chess and Jeopardy! But while Turing thought that the day would never come when computers could match the performance of human brains, modern computer scientists believe that this is already possible.
How Does A Computer Learn To Think Like Us?
The most popular model of AI today is known as neural networks. Neural networks mimic the way our brains process information through layers of neurons.
Neurons are found in every part of the body, each one performing different functions. These include motor neurons, which help control muscle movement, and sensory neurons, which enable us to perceive sensations like touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell.
Each neuron receives input signals from other neurons in the same layer, and passes those signals along to other neurons in the next layer. Each neuron also sends feedback signals to the previous layer of neurons. These feedback signals allow the system to adjust its behaviour according to the inputs.
When you learn new information, you must rewire connections between neurons to adapt to the new knowledge. This is similar to how a child learns to speak a new language after growing up speaking only English.
Neural networks consist of multiple layers of interconnected neurons, and they have the ability to recognize patterns and learn relationships. They also have the ability to classify data into categories.
Is It Possible For Humans And Machines To Work Together?
One of the biggest challenges facing the field of AI is how to make sure that computers can collaborate with humans, especially given the huge volumes of data produced by modern society.
As mentioned above, neural networks rely on feedback signals to modify their behaviour. If the feedback mechanism fails, the AI system can end up behaving in undesirable ways.
To combat this, researchers have begun implementing “intelligent agents”
That rely on reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning refers to the principle that an agent (in this case, a robot) should act in a way that maximizes rewards.
An intelligent agent can learn by interacting with the environment, receiving positive and negative feedback, and adjusting its behaviour accordingly. As a result, reinforcement learning provides a good foundation for developing collaborative robots that can work alongside humans.
Why Is This So Important?
We’ve seen how AI can be used to improve our lives, from helping us navigate our cities to providing us with personalized recommendations. Nowadays, AI is being implemented in the workplace, too.
Some companies like Amazon are building their own version of AI, while others are partnering up with third parties to develop AI solutions. Some startups are even creating entire industries around AI, including a software company called Palantir that helps banks spot fraud using big data analytics.
Companies like Google and Facebook are also beginning to implement AI in their apps, so you may soon be able to access your photos stored on Facebook from within Instagram, for instance.
While companies have been quick to adopt AI, governments are also looking to implement it across whole sectors of the economy. One example of this is the UK government’s plan to introduce a national ID card containing biometric information and an RFID chip. The aim of this initiative is to increase security and prevent identity theft, although critics say this move goes against privacy rights.
This isn’t the only controversial application of AI either. One of the biggest fears about AI is that it could lead to a massive loss of jobs, as a lot of current jobs involve repetitive tasks that can easily be automated using AI. There’s also concern amongst some economists that AI could cause widespread unemployment, leading to mass unrest and social collapse.
But despite these concerns, there’s still plenty of evidence showing that AI is here to stay. As a result, many businesses are beginning to invest in artificial intelligence programs to make their products better, faster, and cheaper. Perhaps one day, we’ll even see humans working alongside robots.