What is Artificial Intelligence and How does it Work? - Great Learning
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A Brief History of Artificial Intelligence

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Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

The history of Artificial Intelligence can be traced back to the day the term was coined. The term “Artificial Intelligence” dates back to 1956, and was coined by a Stanford canvasser John McCarthy, who defined the key task of AI as a sub-field of computer science. To call a machine intelligent, it must produce a response that is indistinguishable from a human response. AI is making a computer to think, i.e. learning and decision making. Hence AI is the development of mental faculties through the use of computational model.

Over the next few years, we are about to witness a massive transformation in the world we live in by improvements in Artificial Intelligence. More fields are being influenced by AI, and our society is part of that change.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

AI the study of building computers with qualities of the human mind. Taking a look back at a history of Artificial Intelligence since the development of digital computers in the 1940s, it has been demonstrated that computers can be programmed to carry out complex tasks. Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a digital computer or controlled machines to perform tasks commonly associated with an intelligent being.

AI can be embodied in a physical machine such as a robot or in a virtual machine such as a program. In both cases, the character required is “intelligence”.

History of Artificial Intelligence

A discovery that influenced much of the early development of AI was made by Norbert Wiener. He was one of the first to theorize that all intelligent behaviour was the result of feedback mechanisms. One of the results of the intensified research in AI was a novel program called The General Problem Solver, developed by Newell and Simon in 1957. It was an extension of Wiener’s feedback principle and capable of solving a greater extent of commonsense problems. Early AI research in the 1950s explored topics like problem-solving and symbolic methods. This early work paved the way for the automation and formal reasoning that we see in computers today, including decision support systems and smart search that can be designed to complement and enhance human abilities.

The history of AI began in antiquity with stories and rumours of artificial beings endowed with intelligence or consciousness by master craftsmen as exhibited in the writings of Pamela McCorduck who wrote that AI began with “an ancient wish to forge the gods”. Classical philosophers attempted to describe the process of human thinking as the mechanical manipulation of symbols which culminated in the invention of the programmable digital computer in the 1940s. In the 1950s-1970s early work with Neural networks stirred excitement. During 1980s-2010 Machine Learning became popular. Currently, the surge in interest in AI is driven by breakthroughs in Deep learning.

What is AI technology?

AI is achieved by analyzing how the human brain works while solving an issue and then using that analytical problem-solving technique to build complex algorithms to perform similar tasks. AI is an automated decision-making system, which continuously learns, adapts, suggests and takes actions automatically. AI is a branch of computer science that focuses on the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. AI includes programming computers for certain traits such as:

  • – Knowledge
  • – Reasoning
  • – Problem-solving
  • – Perception
  • – Learning
  • – Planning
  • – Manipulation

Ultimate AI would be a recreation of the human thought process i.e. a man-made machine with human intellectual abilities. AI robot or computer gathers facts about a situation through sensors or human input. Then it compares this information to stored data and decides what the information signifies. It then runs various possible actions and predicts which action will be most successful based on the collected information.

There are two types of AI: based on priori modeling and not based on priori modeling. Priori model AI involves most of the service which is programmed and coded with a definite purpose in mind. Machines therefore take information and explore a predefined decision tree. Programmers need to code the patterns to define real-world objects to make the AI program understand . Most of today’s systems use AI priori modelling.

In AI which is not based on priori modelling –  An algorithm with innate preferences encoded determines the behavior. Based on active perception or interaction, machines learn the same way a baby does. Doing, trying and taking feedback. This model is still in its infancy. Compared to the priori model this is difficult to define since two robots trained differently will react differently. Philosophy, mathematics, economics, neuroscience, psychology and control theory are mixed in the right proportion to make AI technology functional. These cognitive tasks include:

  • – Natural language processing for communication with humans
  • – Knowledge representation to store information effectively & efficiently
  • – Automated reasoning to retrieve & answer questions using the stored information
  • – Machine learning to adapt to new circumstances

How does Artificial Intelligence work?

AI works by combining large amounts of information with quick, iterative processing and quick algorithms allowing the software to learn routinely from patterns or features in the data. Expert system is also known as knowledge based systems. These systems rely on a basic set of rules for solving specific problems and are capable of learning. The laws are defined for the system by experts and then implemented using if-then rules. AI is not really machine learning but used interchangeably. AI is a broader concept, while machine learning is the most common application of AI. AI must have access to properties, categories, objects and relations between all of them to implement knowledge engineering.

To know whether or not a machine is intelligent, we can run the Turing test in which a machine converses with a person via a computer. At the end if the person does not come to know that he has conversed with a machine or a person then the machine passes the test and is declared “intelligent”. But this test is not mathematically possible due to the person involved and his criteria.

Goal of AI is to make computers more useful by letting them take over tasks from humans and to understand principles of human intelligence.

Next Steps

Experts predict that within the next decade AI will outperform humans in relatively simple tasks. More complicated tasks are on the horizon. AI as a technology is expected to be mastered by 2050. The military explains the intent of AI is to reduce current workload and minimize the number of tedious tasks performed by humans. In light of this, the smartest approach to AI would be keeping an eye on how technology evolves, taking advantage of the improvements it brings to our lives and not getting too nervous of machines overtaking humans. The world’s first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and applies it in ways we never thought of.

While Hollywood movies and science fiction novels depict AI as human like robots that take over world, the reality is far from that. Artificial Intelligence can be a great ally to move humanity forward. You can explore the required knowledge base required to master Artificial Intelligence, here.

To explore a career in Artificial Intelligence, click here.

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