What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence, often abbreviated as AI, is an interdisciplinary science that is essentially the ability for machines to have human intelligence, allowing them to carry out tasks that we would normally do ourselves. (Despite this, the broad term has made it difficult to draw clear lines which have resulted in ongoing arguments over whether something is AI or not). If you're into Science Fiction like me, don't worry– we're nowhere near being overtaken by robots like the autopilot in Wall-E or the machines in The Matrix– hopefully. However, these "robots gone bad" element in movies and books highlight a very important question– if we're handing all this power over to technology or AI, do they really deserve our trust? How do we know if we've already let things go too far?

Existing examples of Artificial Intelligence include Google's DeepMind, Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, IBM's Watson, Tesla (as well as other types of self-driving cars) and even Netflix. AI surrounds a lot of the technology we use every day and I personally think it's something that's really important to know about– no matter what career path or course you choose to follow. AI's definitely going to be in the future.

So what can AI do?

AI works by going through three essential stages: learning, reasoning and self-correction. Algorithms (step by step instructions or a set of rules) play a very crucial part in creating Artificial Intelligence. These features allow AI to find patterns and ways to solve problems, that sometimes humans can't understand, resulting in their ability to understand texts, images and data as well as carry out intelligent searches.

Are there different types of AI?

Yes, there are two types of AI– Narrow AI (ANI) and General AI (AGI). Narrow AI is what we are usually exposed to and all of the examples I stated earlier are examples of Narrow AI. On the other hand, General AI is completely different. Essentially, General AI allows a machine to apply and use knowledge in different contexts, more closely mirroring human intelligence– it's the sort of artificial intelligence that can understand the world the same way humans do (like the machines in The Matrix). However, fully functioning AGI's don't yet exist (as far as we know) but it's believed that we're getting closer and closer as a society to developing them and an estimate to have them by is 2029. (Let's just hope 2030 isn't anything like 2020... or The Terminator).

How is AI different from Machine Learning and Deep Learning?

This part can be a little tricky. It's crucial to understand that Artificial Intelligence is a very broad term. Machine Learning (ML) is an application (a type) of AI, where machines can automatically learn on their own without having to be programmed. They do this by learning and improving with experience. Furthermore, Deep Learning is a type of Machine learning. Here's some text I got from a source online, that makes this concept a lot clearer to understand.

"Artificial intelligence is a set of algorithms and intelligence to try to mimic human intelligence. Machine learning is one of them, and deep learning is one of those machine learning techniques."

Therefore, both Machine Learning and Deep Learning are important processes that help Artificial Intelligence to work the way it does.

I hope you liked this post! I didn't want to get into too much detail since I'm learning all this myself too. A movie worth watching is The Imitation Game, based on a 1983 biography of Alan Turing (played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch) and The Enigma, with there also being a book written by Andrew Hodges. I'll be posting more recommendations soon, so keep an eye out for that too!


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