Artificial intelligence is the intelligence that is simulated/demonstrated by computers, machines and software to make them perform / act in a similar way a human makes decisions and takes actions. Or at least to emulate this as much as technically possible, or as much as current technology will allow.
Artificial Intelligence or (AI) as it is commonly referred, is no longer the work of fiction. As it’s slowly working its way into our everyday lives, this article will outline the rise of Artificial Intelligence the progress that it has made in the last fifty years and will highlight potential future and in development applications for this technology.
Origins & The imitation game
One of the earliest widely recognised researches into artificial intelligence was undertaken by the British mathematician / cryptanalyst Alan Turing. Who along with his team stationed at Bletchley Park were responsible for cracking the German enigma encryptions during the war.
Along with this Turing made many of the early advancements in computing history and some of his papers / concepts are still studied today, I have had the opportunity to study these concepts first hand.
Getting back to the topic at hand Turing’s research into artificial intelligence, he produced a paper in 1950 outlining his beliefs that in time, machines (computers) could be programmed to acquire abilities or to learn in a way that rivals that of the human mind. He devised a test to check that when such a machine was created / programmed if the machine was truly intelligent, sometimes this test is referred to as ‘the imitation game’ which is where the 2014 film of the same name got its title.
This test works by the using the following steps a human being and a computer / machine will be questioned by a questioner who would not know which is which. The communication would be made entirely via text based messages so that no visual cues would assist in the questioner making the final decision as to which chat the human was using. When the questioner can do discern between the two the computer is sufficiently intelligent to qualify for the category of artificial intelligence.
As yet only one computer in the world has passed the Turing test (the imitation game) this is discussed in the section below.
Recent developments in AI
Current notable projects in the field of artificial intelligence most recently there is IBM’s Watson supercomputer who is an artificial intelligence that is designed to answer questions in natural language. This has been tested on the American quiz show jeopardy against two human former gameshow winners. Where it won the first prize of $1 million dollars or £656991 in pounds. During the test the computer was not connected to the internet and relied solely on local data stored on its internal 4tb storage. This data was in both structured form and unstructured, structured data being data that is sorted in a certain way to aid is the finding of certain objects within the dataset.
The only system as yet to pass the imitation game or the Turing test is a computer program dubbed Eugene Goostman which is primarily a Chat – bot based artificial intelligence that will attempt to simulate human speech and conversation. Although the application of this technology could be far reaching. Possible applications for this will be listed in the applications section below. To give you a rough idea on how this system works you can try a more primitive version of the artificial intelligence called Cleverbot which can be used online from a web browser. If you would like to try this system visit the following web page: http://www.cleverbot.com
Google’s self-driven cars currently in development and a long way off from public release but still I think worth a mention. Google have developed a fleet of driverless cars that have collectively logged over 190,000 miles being tested on public roads and purpose built testing tracks. This kind of technology could change the way we all drive in the future with little to no human intervention required. Although this may not be so appealing to some for others, for example people who are maybe not well enough to drive etc. it could be a very efficient means of transportation.
Risks Associated with the development of AI
The risks of the implementation of artificial intelligence have been portrayed in many films over the years e.g. Terminator with the Skynet AI, 2001 a space odyssey with HAL and iRobot with VIKI to name a few. All of these films explore the possibility that humans could lose control over the artificial intelligence and that it could cease control over the earth and the human race.
These kind of issues would only occur if the Intelligence became self-aware and was able to modify or improve itself.
Although this sort of intelligence is a way off, to address this possibility leading scientists in the field of AI have signed an open letter. To ensure that all research and development into the field of AI is carried out to ensure that it is done with humanities best interests at heart. This letter was put together by the Future of Life Institute and was signed by leading scientists such as Stephen hawking and Elon Musk
Benefits of AI implementation
The benefits of artificial intelligence have also been demonstrated in popular films / TV shows for example Iron man with Jarvis, Knight Rider with KIT and star trek.
With technology changing and smart home appliances becoming more and more popular, a home integrated AI could not be too far off. Think of apples Siri or Google’s (google now) features in smartphones being able to integrate with your smart thermostats and lights. Especially now since apple and google have introduced voice activation on both systems.
Combining this technology with the field of robotics similar to what google have done with their self-driven car fleet could be another possible advancement. For example take the wildcat robot from Boston dynamics that can run at up to 25 mph over terrain. This could be programmed to work out the fastest / easiest route to a location. Delivering supplies to soldiers on the front line eliminating the human risk.