Artificial Intelligence – Short Explanation

Humanity has been at the top of the food chain for eons. In all that time, no-one has been able to match a human’s ability to reason and think. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is looking at building smart machines that can match or even exceed humanity in some particular tasks. While AI cannot at the current time perform all of the functions a human is capable of, algorithms have been designed where a machine can function better in a focused area.

The concept of thinking machines is nothing new. It was initially postulated shortly after the end of the second world war. At the time, Alan Turing asked the question – “can machines think?”. In the 1950s, Turing published a paper called Computing Machinery and Intelligence and helped design the Turing Test, which is still used today.

Artificial Intelligence in the Real World

Most people think of robots and perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger from his titular role as the Terminator when they consider artificial intelligence. In the Terminator, a rogue AI called Skynet had determined humanity needed to be wiped out, and during the film, much death and destruction ensued. In reality, and fortunately, AI is nowhere near this capable.

Currently, we use AI for several different purposes:

  • Adding intelligence – AI adds smart capabilities to devices like phones and speakers. This helps improve our lives in and around the home and removes tedious work.
  • Automating repetitive tasks – AI can perform the same task repeatedly without requiring a break or getting bored.
  • AI data analysis – AI, when paired with big data, is capable of analyzing data faster and in greater depth. This lets companies find patterns that would not have otherwise been obvious, improving their competitive advantage.
  • AI can learn – AI is capable of learning and gaining new skills. AI algorithms can use machine learning to advance and grow progressively better at tasks without being directly programmed. AI algorithms are now able to beat the world’s greatest chess masters.
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Artificial Intelligence in the World of AI

There are different types of AI, but to date, we have only seen one. The different types are narrow or weak AI and general or strong AI. Many people assume that algorithms like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana are examples of AI, but they are only examples of weak AI in reality.

Weak or Narrow AI

With this type of AI, the function is very goal-oriented. This could include services like image and facial recognition, voice assistance, internet searches, or more. This type of AI is extremely capable within the narrow envelope it has been given.
Weak AI does not mimic human intelligence. It performs a specific function within precise parameters and can only complete particular tasks.

General or Strong AI

In contrast to weak AI, Strong AI has the ability to mimic and emulate human intelligence and action. It can learn from experiences and interactions. There are no examples of strong AI at the current time, and with our current levels of technology, it is not something we are likely to achieve soon.