Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of artificial intelligence already by now. According to some of the researchers and scientists in this field, artificial intelligence is the future we are heading towards which will reshape our lives in a drastic way. Don’t worry if you are still confused about what artificial intelligence could mean for you and how will it affect your life as we try to cover all there is to know about the subject in this article. Read on.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of computers or computer-controlled robots to perform tasks that normally a human is capable of. It involves mimicking the human intelligence and capabilities such as reasoning, discovering meaning, learning, self-correction, and so on by a computer system. Artificial intelligence includes the aspects of intelligence where a machine is able to interact with the environment through its sensory means and take decisions on its own, thinking on its own, without any human intervention.
Initial Years for Artificial Intelligence
The term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was coined by Dartmouth professor, John McCarthy in the year 1956. He, together with a small group of scientists had high hopes of making a breakthrough in this field. Though their hopes were not met immediately, it served as a catalyst for many other researchers to take notice of this field as they began focusing on solving abstract problems in math and logic using intelligent machines. The results started to show when in the late 1950s Arthur Samuel developed programs that learned to play checkers. In the year 1962, one program even won against an expert of the game. In the year 1967, ‘Dendral’ could replicate the interpretations of the chemist of mass-spectrometry data from the chemical samples the chemist. And so, over the years the field of Artificial Intelligence continued to make progress and keep making smarter machines.
Where is Artificial Intelligence Today?
The AI which is available today may have come a long way from when we began, but we are not quite there yet and researchers believe we may take many-many years to reach there. For instance, the AI today cannot really replicate the human brain and put in in a computer chip. At best, AI can learn from the past experiences and from the data it is fed, by learning from the patterns and looking for similarities. Just like humans had to learn things from their experiences, AI too would have to go through that entire process of learning before they can be truly capable of replicating humans.
AI comprises of three main concepts that form an intricate part of it – Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and Neural Networks. The neural networks or the network of our brain has billions of neurons that are interlinked with trillions of synapses, which are, needless to say, not easy to replicate. This is what scientists dream to achieve one day. For now, what we see is ‘Weak AI’ or ‘Artificial Narrow Intelligence’ (ANI) where the machines are limited in the ways they think and can be at the most intuitive but not self-aware. For example, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa are limited in what they can do.
Thought ANI is an achievement in itself, the experts are progressing towards Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) where the programs would be able to reason, plan, and handle complex concepts on their own. Next comes the ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence) which would have programs that would be smarter than the entire population on the planet. This is what is being seen as the modern version of the Frankenstein story where machines could overtake the human race spelling doom. But for all we know, we may be panicking for nothing. It is too soon to comment.
Application of Artificial Intelligence
Healthcare: Companies are placing their bets on machine learning to improve the medical sciences in the future with faster diagnoses. IBM Watson is the best example of such a technology which can mine data from billions of documents, analyze the information and provide accurate responses to complex questions.
Education: AI can automate certain monotonous processes that can aid the teachers in the future, for example grading or helping with checking the homework. AI can assess students and their needs and come out with ways that can help the students gain knowledge in a better way and provide additional support.
Law: Law often requires endless pages of reading and scrutiny and gathering data from previous similar cases, if any, to draw references from. AI can automate this process by sifting through millions of such documents that might otherwise take longer human hours to finish. There are startups that are developing a question-and-answer computer assistant that can look through the data and examine the taxonomy associated with a database.