What is Artificial Intelligence?

We are naturally intelligent, thus the intelligence that we have as humans is termed “Natural Intelligence”. The word “Intelligence” can refer to many aspects, such as cognitive functions (like thinking, learning, analyzing, problem solving), ability to store information in our brains and use that information to respond to various situations, and use our past experiences to change the way how we would normally react. Likewise, there can be many other ways how humans are defined intelligent. When we try to simulate a machine to display similar kind of intelligence, we call it “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) or “Machine Intelligence”.
So, how can we create intelligent machines that work and react like humans? In an oversimplified overview, we can recognize two broad concepts in AI: Narrow AI and General AI. In Narrow AI, we develop machines/codes for a narrow scope of jobs. These include character recognition, face detection, language translation and similar jobs. In the case of General AI, it can be designing something like a humanoid robot, which can behave similar (or closer) to humans. It could have AI components capable of performing an integration of functions, such as facial recognition, object detection, navigation etc. The history of AI took an important turn in 1950, when Alan Turing first thought “Can Machines Think?” If you are interested in AI, the movie “The Imitation Game” is highly recommended (if you haven’t watched it already). It is based on the biography of Alan Turing.
At its current rate of progress, some people are concerned that AI will become a threat to humanity. One day, it is possible that machine intelligence outsmart humans, making us obsolete. Another factor when it comes to AI is, we always try to build rational agents, unlike humans, who might not always act rationally and can act against the rules or against what’s right. Unpredictable behavior is not possible in the case of machines, unless they are programmed to always or randomly act irrationally or against rules and conditions. Machines always respond to situations as they have been programmed to or based on what they are taught. Nonetheless, we cannot rule out the possibility of AI surpassing human intelligence one day.
Another unforeseen consequence of AI is, it can bring about many intelligent machines, and this in turn, can lead to mass unemployment. This could be much more severe than it was in industrial revolutions and technological revolutions. A lot of day-to-day tasks, and many other jobs would easily be replaced by intelligent machines. This is especially true, if they are routine jobs, and involve repetitive tasks, not requiring a lot of Natural Intelligence.
AI has already invaded some aspects of our lives, even though we are oblivious to it. Almost all of us use social networking sites, and most are addicted to them. Did you know that they contain AI agents that detect what kind of ads you click on, and what kind of pages you search for? They can use this information in order to show you more relevant ads and pages that you might be interested in and so on. The same kind of AI exists in most other websites that we browse. This is not always advantageous, and can lead us to privacy breaches. Hence, it is important that we are knowledgeable in this regard, so that we can be alert, and keep our digital footprints safe.

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