Back in Oct. 1950, British techno-visionary Alan Turing published an article called "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," in the journal MIND that raised what at the time must have seemed to many like a science-fiction fantasy.
"May not machines carry out something which ought to be described as thinking but which is very different from what a man does?" Turing asked.
Turing thought that they could. Moreover, he believed, it was possible to create software for a digital computer that enabled it to observe its environment and to learn new things, from playing chess to understanding and speaking a human language. And he thought machines eventually could develop the ability to do that on their own, without human guidance. "We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields," he predicted.
Nearly 70 years later, Turing's seemingly outlandish vision has become a reality. Artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, gives machines the ability to learn from experience and perform cognitive tasks, the sort of stuff that once only the human brain seemed capable of doing.
AI is rapidly spreading throughout civilization, where it has the promise of doing everything from enabling autonomous vehicles to navigate the streets to making more accurate hurricane forecasts. On an everyday level, AI figures out what ads to show you on the web, and powers those friendly chatbots that pop up when you visit an e-commerce website to answer your questions and provide customer service. And AI-powered personal assistants in voice-activated smart home devices perform myriad tasks, from controlling our TVs and doorbells to answering trivia questions and helping us find our favorite songs.
But we're just getting started with it. As AI technology grows more sophisticated and capable, it's expected to massively boost the world's economy, creating about $13 trillion worth of additional activity by 2030, according to a McKinsey Global Institute forecast.
"AI is still early in adoption, but adoption is accelerating and it is being used across all industries," says Sarah Gates, an analytics platform strategist at SAS, a global software and services firm that focuses upon turning data into intelligence for clients.
It's even more amazing, perhaps, that our existence is quietly being transformed by a technology that many of us barely understand, if at all something so complex that even scientists have a tricky time explaining it.
"AI is a family of technologies that perform tasks that are thought to require intelligence if performed by humans," explains Vasant Honavar, a professor and director of the Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory at Penn State University. "I say 'thought,' because nobody is really quite sure what intelligence is."
Honavar describes two main categories of intelligence. There's narrow intelligence, which is achieving competence in a narrowly defined domain, such as analyzing images from X-rays and MRI scans in radiology. General intelligence, in contrast, is a more human-like ability to learn about anything and to talk about it. "A machine might be good at some diagnoses in radiology, but if you ask it about baseball, it would be clueless," Honavar explains. Humans' intellectual versatility "is still beyond the reach of AI at this point."
According to Honavar, there are two key pieces to AI. One of them is the engineering part that is, building tools that utilize intelligence in some way. The other is the science of intelligence, or rather, how to enable a machine to come up with a result comparable to what a human brain would come up with, even if the machine achieves it through a very different process. To use an analogy, "birds fly and airplanes fly, but they fly in completely different ways," Honavar. "Even so, they both make use of aerodynamics and physics. In the same way, artificial intelligence is based upon the notion that there are general principles about how intelligent systems behave."
AI is "basically the results of our attempting to understand and emulate the way that the brain works and the application of this to giving brain-like functions to otherwise autonomous systems (e.g., drones, robots and agents)," Kurt Cagle, a writer, data scientist and futurist who's the founder of consulting firm Semantical, writes in an email. He's also editor of The Cagle Report, a daily information technology newsletter.
And while humans don't really think like computers, which utilize circuits, semi-conductors and magnetic media instead of biological cells to store information, there are some intriguing parallels. "One thing we're beginning to discover is that graph networks are really interesting when you start talking about billions of nodes, and the brain is essentially a graph network, albeit one where you can control the strengths of processes by varying the resistance of neurons before a capacitive spark fires," Cagle explains. "A single neuron by itself gives you a very limited amount of information, but fire enough neurons of varying strengths together, and you end up with a pattern that gets fired only in response to certain kinds of stimuli, typically modulated electrical signals through the DSPs [that is digital signal processing] that we call our retina and cochlea."
"Most applications of AI have been in domains with large amounts of data," Honavar says. To use the radiology example again, the existence of large databases of X-rays and MRI scans that have been evaluated by human radiologists, makes it possible to train a machine to emulate that activity.
AI works by combining large amounts of data with intelligent algorithms series of instructions that allow the software to learn from patterns and features of the data, as this SAS primer on artificial intelligence explains.
In simulating the way a brain works, AI utilizes a bunch of different subfields, as the SAS primer notes.
The concept of AI dates back to the 1940s, and the term "artificial intelligence" was introduced at a 1956 conference at Dartmouth College. Over the next two decades, researchers developed programs that played games and did simple pattern recognition and machine learning. Cornell University scientist Frank Rosenblatt developed the Perceptron, the first artificial neural network, which ran on a 5-ton (4.5-metric ton), room-sized IBM computer that was fed punch cards.
But it wasn't until the mid-1980s that a second wave of more complex, multilayer neural networks were developed to tackle higher-level tasks, according to Honavar. In the early 1990s, another breakthrough enabled AI to generalize beyond the training experience.
In the 1990s and 2000s, other technological innovations the web and increasingly powerful computers helped accelerate the development of AI. "With the advent of the web, large amounts of data became available in digital form," Honavar says. "Genome sequencing and other projects started generating massive amounts of data, and advances in computing made it possible to store and access this data. We could train the machines to do more complex tasks. You couldn't have had a deep learning model 30 years ago, because you didn't have the data and the computing power."
AI is different from, but related to, robotics, in which machines sense their environment, perform calculations and do physical tasks either by themselves or under the direction of people, from factory work and cooking to landing on other planets. Honavar says that the two fields intersect in many ways.
"You can imagine robotics without much intelligence, purely mechanical devices like automated looms," Honavar says. "There are examples of robots that are not intelligent in a significant way." Conversely, there's robotics where intelligence is an integral part, such as guiding an autonomous vehicle around streets full of human-driven cars and pedestrians.
"It's a reasonable argument that to realize general intelligence, you would need robotics to some degree, because interaction with the world, to some degree, is an important part of intelligence," according to Honavar. "To understand what it means to throw a ball, you have to be able to throw a ball."
AI quietly has become so ubiquitous that it's already found in many consumer products.
"A huge number of devices that fall within the Internet of Things (IoT) space readily use some kind of self-reinforcing AI, albeit very specialized AI," Cagle says. "Cruise control was an early AI and is far more sophisticated when it works than most people realize. Noise dampening headphones. Anything that has a speech recognition capability, such as most contemporary television remotes. Social media filters. Spam filters. If you expand AI to cover machine learning, this would also include spell checkers, text-recommendation systems, really any recommendation system, washers and dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, really most home electronics produced after 2017, speakers, televisions, anti-lock braking systems, any electric vehicle, modern CCTV cameras. Most games use AI networks at many different levels."
AI already can outperform humans in some narrow domains, just as "airplanes can fly longer distances, and carry more people than a bird could," Honavar says. AI, for example, is capable of processing millions of social media network interactions and gaining insights that can influence users' behavior an ability that the AI expert worries may have "not so good consequences."
It's particularly good at making sense of massive amounts of information that would overwhelm a human brain. That capability enables internet companies, for example, to analyze the mountains of data that they collect about users and employ the insights in various ways to influence our behavior.
But AI hasn't made as much progress so far in replicating human creativity, Honavar notes, though the technology already is being utilized to compose music and write news articles based on data from financial reports and election returns.
Given AI's potential to do tasks that used to require humans, it's easy to fear that its spread could put most of us out of work. But some experts envision that while the combination of AI and robotics could eliminate some positions, it will create even more new jobs for tech-savvy workers.
"Those most at risk are those doing routine and repetitive tasks in retail, finance and manufacturing," Darrell West, a vice president and founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based public policy organization, explains in an email. "But white-collar jobs in health care will also be affected and there will be an increase in job churn with people moving more frequently from job to job. New jobs will be created but many people will not have the skills needed for those positions. So the risk is a job mismatch that leaves people behind in the transition to a digital economy. Countries will have to invest more money in job retraining and workforce development as technology spreads. There will need to be lifelong learning so that people regularly can upgrade their job skills."
And instead of replacing human workers, AI may be used to enhance their intellectual capabilities. Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that by the 2030s, AI have achieved human levels of intelligence, and that it will be possible to have AI that goes inside the human brain to boost memory, turning users into human-machine hybrids. As Kurzweil has described it, "We're going to expand our minds and exemplify these artistic qualities that we value."
- A guide to healthy skepticism of artificial intelligence and coronavirus - Brookings Institution - April 2nd, 2020
- AI vs your career? What artificial intelligence will really do to the future of work - ZDNet - April 2nd, 2020
- Return On Artificial Intelligence: The Challenge And The Opportunity - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- Stanford launches an accelerated test of AI to help with Covid-19 care - STAT - April 2nd, 2020
- How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Fight The COVID-19 Pandemic - Entrepreneur - April 2nd, 2020
- Enterprise Artificial Intelligence Along With Telehealth And Teleconferences Can Help In Fighting COVID-19 - Entrepreneur - April 2nd, 2020
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) Companies That Are Combating The COVID-19 Pandemic - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- How Artificial Intelligence is Going to Make Your Analytics Better Than Ever - Security Magazine - April 2nd, 2020
- STAT's guide to how hospitals are using AI to fight Covid-19 - STAT - April 2nd, 2020
- 6 Visions of How Artificial Intelligence will Change Architecture - ArchDaily - April 2nd, 2020
- The race problem with AI: Machines are learning to be racist' - Metro.co.uk - April 2nd, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence in Retail Market Projected to Grow with a CAGR of 35.9% Over the Forecast Period, 2019-2025 - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Yahoo... - April 2nd, 2020
- Google and the Oxford Internet Institute explain artificial intelligence basics with the A-Z of AI - VentureBeat - April 2nd, 2020
- AiThority Interview with Seth Siegel, AI Consulting at Infosys - AiThority - April 2nd, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence turns a persons thoughts into text - Times of India - April 2nd, 2020
- The Limitations of Artificial Intelligence in Businesses - AZoRobotics - April 2nd, 2020
- VA Looking to Expand Usage of Artificial Intelligence Data - GovernmentCIO Media - April 2nd, 2020
- New blood test study uses artificial intelligence to identify cancer. But its not ready for patients yet. - Cancer Research UK - Science Blog - April 2nd, 2020
- artificial intelligence | Definition, Examples, and ... - March 28th, 2020
- What is Artificial Intelligence? How Does AI Work? | Built In - March 28th, 2020
- Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence - Future of ... - March 28th, 2020
- Global Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Market - Premium Insight, Competitive News Feed Analysis, Company Usability Profiles, Market Sizing &... - March 28th, 2020
- The Global Artificial Intelligence in Aviation Market is expected to grow from USD 214.36 Million in 2018 to USD 1,824.46 Million by the end of 2025... - March 28th, 2020
- Is artificial intelligence the answer to disease prevention? - The Burn-In - March 28th, 2020
- Why transparency is key to promoting trust in artificial intelligence - IT PRO - March 28th, 2020
- Coronavirus: Spain to use artificial intelligence to automate testing - ComputerWeekly.com - March 28th, 2020
- Bridging the gaps: joining human and artificial intelligence | Technology - Business Chief Canada - March 28th, 2020
- DIAGNOS Will Utilize its Artificial Intelligence Medical Platform FLAIRE in Response to the US White House - Call to Action to Analyse and Transform... - March 26th, 2020
- LiveMD Global Telehealth Platform launches artificial intelligence tracking and triaging tools to help combat COVID-19 (CoronaVirus) Pandemic -... - March 26th, 2020
- New Research from Newark Reveals Strong Adoption of Artificial Intelligence within the Internet of Things Ecosystem - Embedded Computing Design - March 26th, 2020
- AI vs COVID-19: Here are the AI tools and services fighting coronavirus - AI News - March 26th, 2020
- Stanford virtual conference to focus on COVID19 and artificial intelligence | Stanford News - Stanford University News - March 26th, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence in the energy sector: opportunities and challenges - WhaTech - March 26th, 2020
- 31 Companies, Products and People making Artificial Intelligence a Reality in 2020 - PR Web - March 26th, 2020
- KT zu Guttenberg, Artificial Intelligence and You - theTrumpet.com - March 26th, 2020
- BrainChip and Socionext Provide a New Low-Power Artificial Intelligence Platform for AI Edge Applications - Design and Reuse - March 26th, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence Chipsets Market report reviews overview with demographic data and industry growth trends by 2025 - WhaTech Technology and... - March 26th, 2020
- Richmond-based Blue Heron Capital invests in company that uses artificial intelligence to improve lung disease monitoring - Richmond.com - March 26th, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence is Becoming the Future of Investment Platforms - EnterpriseTalk - March 19th, 2020
- Is Your Company Using Artificial Intelligence To Transform An Industry? Nominations For The Forbes 2020 AI 50 List Are Now Open - Forbes - March 19th, 2020
- On the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Genomics to Enhance Precisio | PGPM - Dove Medical Press - March 19th, 2020
- Artificial intelligence myths: Reality check - Livemint - March 19th, 2020
- Battery Researchers Look to Artificial Intelligence to Slash Recharging Times - Greentech Media News - March 19th, 2020
- The Army Will Soon Be Able to Command Robot Tanks With Artificial Intelligence - The National Interest - March 19th, 2020
- Canon Medical's 3T MR System Receives FDA Clearance for Artificial Intelligence-Based Image Reconstruction Technology - BioSpace - March 19th, 2020
- Coronavirus: How Artificial Intelligence, Data Science And Technology Is Used To Fight The Pandemic - Forbes - March 19th, 2020
- Artificial intelligence: The new power dynamic of today - Daily Sabah - March 19th, 2020
- Rethinking Financial Services with Artificial Intelligence Tools - The Financial Brand - March 19th, 2020
- Artificial intelligence recruited to find clues about Covid-19 - The Star Online - March 19th, 2020
- IIT-M to reskill women in artificial intelligence - Campus Varta - March 19th, 2020
- San Diego-Based Company takes Digital Marketing to the next Level by Launching the First Artificial Intelligence Marketing Agency in the United States... - March 19th, 2020
- An Unexpected Ally in the War With Bacteria - The Atlantic - March 19th, 2020
- Compliance For A Digital World: BSA/AML The New ABC's: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain And How Each Complements The Other - JD Supra - March 19th, 2020
- The next step in digital transformation: is Artificial Intelligence production-ready for green sand foundries? - Foundry-Planet.com - March 19th, 2020
- Insights into the North America Artificial Intelligence in Fashion Market to 2027 - Drivers, Restraints, Opportunities and Trends -... - March 19th, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence by CWI and Amsterdam UMC proposes the best radiation treatment plans in clinical practice for the first time - Centrum... - March 19th, 2020
- H2O.ai Named to the 2020 CB Insights AI 100 List of Most Innovative Artificial Intelligence Startups - Yahoo Finance - March 4th, 2020
- 'There's No Story That Stays Stable for Too Long.' How Artists Are Using Artificial Intelligence to Confront Modern Anxieties - TIME - March 4th, 2020
- Minister declares creation of artificial intelligence centres in Poland - The First News - March 4th, 2020
- Dont forget to consider GDPR when using artificial intelligence in the workplace - ComputerWeekly.com - March 4th, 2020
- Iktos and SRI International Announce Collaboration to Combine Artificial Intelligence and Novel Automated Discovery Platform for Accelerated... - March 4th, 2020
- Why we need to adapt existing EU laws to Artificial Intelligence - European Public Health Alliance - March 4th, 2020
- How a Portland nonprofit is using artificial intelligence to help save whales, giraffes, zebras - Seattle Times - March 4th, 2020
- Artificial Intelligence Infused with Big Data Creating a Tech-driven World - EnterpriseTalk - March 4th, 2020
- Gaming with Artificial Intelligence Technology in 2020 - ReadWrite - March 4th, 2020
- Global Artificial Intelligence-as-a-Service (AIaaS) Market 2020-2024 | Growing Adoption of Cloud Based Solutions to Boost Market Growth | Technavio -... - March 4th, 2020
- WorldMarkets Continues With the Success of Its Trading Artificial Intelligence - Live Bitcoin News - March 4th, 2020
- Why Artificial Intelligence Will Never Beat the Stock Market - Traders Magazine - March 4th, 2020
- Why Neuro-Symbolic Artificial Intelligence Is The AI Of The Future - Digital Trends - January 5th, 2020
- Welcome to the roaring 2020s, the artificial intelligence decade - GreenBiz - January 5th, 2020
- Top five projections in Artificial Intelligence for 2020 - Economic Times - January 5th, 2020
- A reality check on artificial intelligence: Can it match the hype? - PhillyVoice.com - January 5th, 2020
- Can medical artificial intelligence live up to the hype? - Los Angeles Times - January 5th, 2020
- Illinois regulates artificial intelligence like HireVues used to analyze online job Interviews - Vox.com - January 5th, 2020
- How This Cofounder Created An Artificial Intelligence Styling Company To Help Consumers Shop - Forbes - January 5th, 2020
- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Takes on Artificial Intelligence - JD Supra - January 5th, 2020
- Baidu looks to work with Indian institutions on AI - BusinessLine - January 5th, 2020
- Top Movies Of 2019 That Depicted Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Analytics India Magazine - January 5th, 2020
- Shocking ways AI technology will revolutionise every day industries in YOUR lifetime - Express.co.uk - January 5th, 2020
- Artificial intelligence takes scam to a whole new level - The Jackson Sun - January 5th, 2020