History of Artificial Intelligence
A defining characteristic of the last century has been the numerous significant technological advancements made. Most of these advances were facilitated by the invention of the computer, making computer science a critical discipline in modern times. One fascinating and promising branch of computer science is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
This is an interdisciplinary branch of the science that borrows from a wide range of fields including cognitive psychology, engineering, mathematics, linguistics, and philosophy. The field aims at exploring and developing ways in which computer systems can be made to act in a manner that human beings recognize as “intelligent”.
The term “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1956 following concerted interest by scientists from various backgrounds on symbolic processing and computer simulation of human behavior (Palmer 2). While AI as a discipline began in the mid-1950s, its foundations were laid earlier on by a number of prominent British scientists. The 19th century British mathematician Charles Babbage formulated the first computing engine, which served as the precursor of the modern digital computer.
The 19th century Mathematician-logician George Boole invented Boolean algebra, which was used in the operation of digital computer. Last and most important was the British logician-mathematician, Alan Turin, who proposed computer programs based upon logical operators. The proposed machines were capable of interacting and manipulating symbols that included natural language. Palmer reveals that from Turin’s idea or a universal programmable computer, the ideal of AI arose (2).
The initial goals of AI researchers were very ambitious. In the early years of the field, AI scientists sort to fully duplicate the human capacities of thought and language on the digital computer (Palmer 2). Some of the researchers involved in AI projects went so far as to claim that a complete theory of intelligence would be achieved by the late 1960s.
As it turned out, the AI programs did not achieve the momentous results promised. The initial efforts led to the successful design of programs that could prove theorems in symbolic logic. However, the projects failed to succeed in automatic language translation leading to a loss of funding to expert systems, which did not attempt to explain human intelligence but had great practical applications.
There was a regeneration of interest in AI over the 1970s and 1980s as researchers in the US and Europe engaged in expansive studies exploring intuitions about intelligence (Geffner 45). During this period, computer scientists had reduced the ambitions of AI to theories of more modest scope. The quest for certainty and truth had been abandoned for “micro-truths” that can be obtained though common sense introspection.
As opposed to the past where AI research was concentrated on understanding the nature of intelligence, greater emphasis was given to practical application (Palmer 2). The 21st century has witnessed great advances in AI with systems being developed for practical applications.
Current AI uses
The past two decades have witnessed an increase in the number of practical AI uses. One area where AI is used with increasing frequency is speech recognition. Computer systems are programmed to understand human natural language and respond to it. Speech recognition is difficult to achieve since human speech is impeded by many factors including accents, slang words, and background noise. As such, computer systems have to have some level of intelligence in order to correctly recognize human voice.
Speech recognition programs have to be trained to understand the particular speech pattern of a user (Geffner 46). After the training, the program can be used for a wide array of practical uses. It can be used to give voice commands to smart vehicles. Smart phones also utilize speech recognition to write text messages or initialize phone calls.
AI has also been used in the creation of intelligent robots that perform a number of tasks. Typical robots, such as those ones used in vehicle assembly are not intelligent in that they are programmed to perform specific tasks in a repetitive manner. AI technology used to make a robot includes artificial neural network, knowledge based system and all possible decision making systems (Bongard 75).
As a result of this, the intelligent robots can adjust to the natural environment and learn from mistakes. These robots have been used for the exploration of unknown environment including distant planets. Using AI, the robot is able to utilize the input from its many different sensors to adapt to the conditions.
The medical field employs AI in medical diagnosis. By use of artificial neural networks, medical professionals are aided in their decision making process. In addition to this, AI helps in the interpretation of medical images and can accurately detect conditions such as tumors (Bongard 80). A knowledge based system that has captured and embedded explicitly human knowledge can be used to suggest treatment options for patients. AI reduces the risk of wrong prescriptions by a physician.
Artificial intelligence is employed in the development of accounting systems. Specifically, AI has been exploited in auditing, taxation, and decision making support. Moudud reveals that neural networks, genetic algorithms, and knowledge-based systems are being used to detect fraud and perform risk analysis (10). By going though vast amounts of data, AI systems are able to identify patterns and therefore highlight irregularities. AI systems have also been used for bankruptcy prediction. Moudud explains that intelligent techniques are used to develop models capable of predicting business failure cases (16).
Artificial intelligence is also used to access the safety of bridges. The structural integrity of bridges is important since their collapse might be disastrous. Shuster explains that by using neural network computing, engineers are able to compare the properties of cracks in beams with the stiffness and thereby compute a health index (40). By using AI, the objectivity of bridge health assessment is assured since the computer does not suffer from the bias that an inspector might have.
Future of AI
While AI has greatly advanced since it was first conceived in the 1950s, the field has not achieved the goal of creating machines that can solve problems independently like humans and learn and improve from each encounter (Bongard 74). However, researchers predict some significant breakthroughs in AI in the future.
Advances are being made to improve the speech recognition abilities of machines. With technological advances, intelligent machines are predicted to not only be able to recognize and communicate fluently in natural language but also detect emotions and respond to them (Bongard 76). Emotion detection and emulation will be a great advancement in AI since it closely mimics human behavior.
AI researchers are working on creating systems that not only analyze vast amounts of data and come up with “intelligent” solutions, but systems that can come up with ideas. Such systems would be able to mimic human intelligence through their perceptiveness (Geffner 45). In addition to this, there are projects aimed at creating machines that have some level of self-awareness in the same way that humans do. While these projects are still in their infancy, it is hoped that as huge technological advances are made, there will be sufficient processing power available to achieve such goals.
The field of AI has not advanced in the manner that its pioneers envisioned it would. Even so, Artificial Intelligence has exhibited growth and it has contributed in many of the technological advances made today. The future promises to bring even more engaging innovations in this field. Some AI researchers are hopeful that by 2050, systems that possess self awareness and are capable of producing independent thoughts will have been created. If this is achieved, Allan Turin’s vision of Artificial Intelligence will have been realized.
Artificial Intelligence Opinion Piece
Artificial Intelligence is one of the fields where there exist differences in opinions about the overall benefits of the disciple to mankind. The negative views on AI stem from the supposed dangers that intelligent machines might present to man. Opponent of AI predict that as the field is advanced, self aware machines that can rise against man will be created. In the present, the opponents point out that AI is creating a condition where machines take over more jobs that could otherwise be performed by people. However, a careful look at the advances and applications of AI over the last few decades suggests that this field is making a positive contribution to human life.
Modern discoveries in remote regions including outer space have been greatly aided by AI. Using these systems, scientists have been able to discover unexplored places including the planet Mars. AI machines used for exploration are made such that they can endure hostile physical environments (Chatfield par 3). Their intelligence makes it possible for them to adapt to the real conditions in their environment and achieve the set scientific objectives.
Since there is no risk of harm to humans when using intelligent machines, scientists have been able to engage in the exploration of dangerous lands. Without AI, it would be impossible for exploration into distant or dangerous regions to be made since such activities would involve great risk to human life.
AI increases the efficiency with which work is performed. Whether intelligent machines are used independently or to assist humans, they result in added speed and accuracy of performing tasks (Moshe 5). For example, application of AI systems in the medical field can reduce unnecessary testing by predicting the impact that a medical test will have in the eventual decision making of the physician (Cismondi 345). The risk of error is also decreased since AI machines can have a knowledge base that will be utilized to highlight errors.
Intelligent machines can perform better in activities that require decision making since they are not prone to bias. Once the machine learns how to perform a task, it can be expect to keep performing consistently without error. The machine will always make the rational decision since its judgment is not clouded (Moshe 5). The lack of emotion also means that AI systems can be relied upon to think logically at all times. Objectivity is therefore ensured when AI systems are employed.
AI has contributed to the high rate of technological advances currently being enjoyed. AI machines have been used to make many computer models that have been used for various innovative purposes (Tseng 465). The high degree of accuracy and the speed with which this modeling has occurred has speeded up the making of technological and scientific discoveries. It can be expected that as more AI systems are implemented, these technological growth rate will increase thereby benefiting humankind even more.
The human civilization is enjoying many benefits because of AI. These advantages have led to increased interest in advancing the field. At the present, AI is considered to be in its infancy stage and it is expected that as the field advances, many more applications of these systems will be developed. These developments will be harnessed to benefit.
Chatfield, Tom. Artificial intelligence: The machines with alien minds. 2013.
Cismondi, Federico. “Reducing unnecessary lab testing in the ICU with artificial intelligence.” International Journal of Medical Informatics 82.5 (2013): 345-358.
Moshe, Vardi. Artificial Intelligence: Past and Future. Communications of the ACM 55.1 (2012)5-6.
Tseng, Chun. “Patent analysis for technology development of artificial intelligence: A country-level comparative study.” Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice 15.4 (2013): 463–475. Print.