Question for Beginner: What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a contemporary term used to describe smart machines. Many people, including scientists and public figures, use the term as if it were all-inclusive. Technically speaking, however, AI is merely one aspect of smart technology.

         It would be more accurate to say that ‘AI’ refers to machine learning—the computer’s ability to learn on its own without being explicitly programmed by a human being. This type of programming is prevalent in things like speech recognition software or facial recognition programs. Even though humans have developed these programs, they are able to function without continuous input from their developers because they are able to learn by themselves using machine learning algorithms . This is one of the major differences between ‘AI’ and ordinary computer programming.

         Though machines like robots are also examples of smart technology, they do not fall under the classification of AI. They require constant instruction from humans to complete tasks. A robot is an automated machine; it does not make decisions for itself or learn new information on its own. An AI-powered machine is able to accomplish these feats—that’s why they’re far more intelligent than your average robot .

         There have been many advancements in this field since the term was first coined back in 1956 by John McCarthy, a scientist at Dartmouth College. He believed that artificial intelligence could be used to mimic human behavior without any process of elimination or logical thinking required . Of course, this was all theoretical at the time.

         The concept of artificial intelligence exploded with the invention of the computer chip in 1958 , paving the way for programs that could function on their own, learn independently, and solve problems all on their own without human input .

         Over the next few decades , scientists began to create programs that could do simple math problems, translate language more effectively than before, and even answer complex questions about subjects they’d never studied . Even though many predicted that true AI was right around the corner—and some still believe it’s inevitable—it still has not come into fruition. This is largely due to something called “the frame problem ,” which makes it difficult for machines to determine what information is important enough to act on and what information should be ignored.

         Since the early 2000s, AI has been used in much more practical ways than simply developing machines that think like humans. Some of these applications include:

-Medical diagnosis software that detects cancerous cells months before a human could.

-Software that can predict market trends as well as or better than top analysts.

-Computer generated art and music that often equals or surpasses the quality created by human artists and musicians .

-Programs capable of winning at games like chess and Go without any input from their creators. This is especially significant considering how complicated and nuanced these games are—a computer programmed to play them would need to make millions of calculations per second because there are so many possible scenarios .

-An autonomous car that can drive itself through a busy city without crashing into anything or anyone.

         The future holds even more advancements, from virtual personal assistants to artificial travel agents and beyond.

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