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Technology: Building A Better World with AI

- By Dwaipayan, 12 August 2020 | 5 MIN READ


Allan Turing changed the course of history, after breaking the Nazi encryption machine Enigma and helped the Allied Forces win World War II. (You can watch the motivational movie on Allan Turning – The Imitation Game available on YouTube)

Turing's paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950), and its subsequent Turing Test, is a breakthrough to establish the goal and idea of artificial intelligence.  

That takes us to the question, what is artificial intelligence? Well, AI is the branch of computer science that aims to answer Turing's question. It is an effort to imitate or simulate human intelligence in machines.

The expansive goal of artificial intelligence has triggered many questions and debates. To that extent, no singular definition of the field is universally accepted. 

Is defining AI as simply "building machines that are intelligent" explain what artificial intelligence is? Then what makes a machine intelligent?

Authors Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig approach the question by collaborating their work around the theme of intelligent agents in machines in their pioneering textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.

The duo Norvig and Russell look at four different approaches that have historically defined the field of AI:

·         Thinking rationally

·         Thinking humanly

·         Acting humanly

·         Acting rationally

Here the first two ideas concern thought processes and reasoning, while the other two on behaviour.

MIT exponents, Patrick Winston, the Ford professor of artificial intelligence and computer science defines AI as “algorithms enabled by constraints, exposed by representations that support models targeted at loops that tie thinking, perception and action together."

To make things easy for the average person to understand, they help spotlight the field as an area of computer science and offer a blueprint for infusing machines and programs with machine learning and other subgroups of artificial intelligence.

In an address to the crowd at the Japan AI Experience in 2017, CEO Jeremy Achin of DataRobot offered the following definition of how AI is used today:

"AI is a computer system able to perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence... Many of these artificial intelligence systems are powered by machine learning, some of them are powered by deep learning and some of them are powered by very boring things like rules."

How is Artificial Intelligence used?

Artificial intelligence falls under two broad categories:

Narrow AI: Sometimes referred to as "Weak AI," this kind of AI operates within a limited context and is a simulation of human intelligence. Narrow AI performs a single task very efficiently and while these machines may seem intelligent, they function under far more constraints and limitations than even the most basic human intelligence.


Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): AGI, termed as "Strong AI," is the type of artificial intelligence we see in the movies, just like the humanoid robot in Terminator or Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. AGI is a contraption with general intelligence and, much like a human being, it can apply intelligence to resolve any problem. Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle.

Narrow AI has made numerous breakthroughs in the last decade and is widely used by people in general that have had "significant societal benefits and have contributed to the economic vitality of the nation.

A few examples of Narrow AI include which we use every day:

·         Google search

·         Image recognition software

·         Siri, Alexa, and other personal assistants

·         Self-driving cars

·         IBM's Watson

Artificial General Intelligence

Scientists have been persistently trying to create a machine with human-level intelligence that can be applied to any task. Scientists are applying the algorithm to creating machines for full sets of cognitive abilities and have been successful to an extent.  AGI has long been the wonder of dystopian science fiction, robots overrun humanity, Stephen Hawking, and other experts agree it's something we need to worry about if we achieve tremendous success in creating one.




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