Science In The Pub Adelaide

AI

Artificial Intelligence refers to the intelligence of machines as separated from the innate intelligence of humans and animals. The AI field is defined as the study of intelligent agents and any device that can observe its environment and make decisions based on that observation that allows it to achieve its goals is deemed to possess artificial intelligence. It is generally used to describe computers or machines that copy the cognitive functions commonly associated with the human mind like problem-solving and learning.

The development of machines and the increase in their capacity continue to affect what is considered as AI. The more capable the devices become the more tasks that are removed from what would be defined as AI. For example, there was a time when optical character recognition was regarded as AI, but it is now a pedestrian act as more machines are now capable of performing it. This phenomenon is called the AI effect. Today, capabilities considered to be AI include playing the most difficult levels of strategic games such as Go and Chess, operating cars autonomously, military simulations, etc.

In 1955, Artificial Intelligence became an academic discipline. Since then, it has witnessed different waves, and there have been various subfields such as machine learning, robotics, neural networks, etc. AI research focuses on problems such as knowledge representation, reasoning, perception, processing natural language, ability to manipulate and move objects, and learning.  The long term goal of this field is general intelligence and approaches used include computational intelligence, traditional symbolic AI, and statistical methods.  The AI field is related to and influenced by information engineering, computer science, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, mathematics, and several other areas.

AI field is founded on the basis that it is possible to precisely describe human intelligence such that machines can replicate it.  This has led to different philosophical discussions concerning the mind and what it means to create devices capable of thinking like human beings. This has been discussed in various ways with many even sceptical about the cons of AI such as it causing mass unemployment or even leading to the extinction of the human race as a more superior cyborg race takes over. All these concerns appear to be mostly unfounded with AI witnessing a resurgence in the 21st century.

Challenges

Despite the significant strides in AI, the current architecture remains limited when it comes to cognitive abilities. What we see is merely a simplified version of what intelligence can achieve.  While the overall research goal of AI is to create machines that can function intelligently, creating or simulating intelligence remains a problem that has led to the subproblems.