Artificial Intelligence: Next Step in Evolution or the Beginning of the End

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Artificial Intelligence: Next step in evolution or the beginning of the end

Timothy Mixdorf Jr.

INF 103: Introduction to Computer Literacy

Theodore Fekete

June 27,2012

Artificial intelligence has been the dream of mankind since ancient times. In ancient Greek mythology the god Hephaestus manufactured mechanical servants, and the bronze man Talos. Authors Have written books about AI and movies have been made. But, just what is AI and how relevant is it to the everyday person? In the following text I will attempt to explain what artificial intelligence is, how far it has come, what relevance it plays in your life, and if or when the robots will rise up to take over the way popular media likes to portray.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer system to process information in a manner similar to human thought or to exhibit humanlike behavior. AI is also a branch of computer science that strives to design systems with such capabilities. A computer with AI could perform such tasks as learning, understanding language, working toward goals, and perceiving the world through vision, hearing, and other senses. (World Book, 2012) Artificial Intelligence as we know it today had its start when the expression “artificial intelligence” was coined by John McCarthy in 1956, officially declaring the birth of the field at a meeting held at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Pamela McCorduck, very much an enthusiast of the field, has written a detailed history in which she includes many interviews. She explains how this meeting gathered some 10 young mathematicians, psychologists, and electrical engineers who wanted to study the mind independently of its material manifestation in brains. Their project was based on the hypothesis that all the characteristics of intelligence could in principle be described precisely enough to permit their machine simulation. These young researchers all shared the belief that intelligence could be comprehended in a formal, scientific manner, and that the best instrument for the task was the digital computer. McCorduck describes this group of early researchers in artificial intelligence as a closed group, a “clan” whose nepotistic practices saw students pursuing the work of their pioneering mentors. (Artificial Intelligence. (2000).) The main hindrances I have found to achieving the AI dreamed of by Isaac Asimov in his book "I, Robot" are natural intelligence and language skills. Natural intelligence is the ability to process information based on the initial sensory information and any secondary feedback. For example, you can easily recognize your mother's face and tell when she is upset by the way her face is set and the body language she uses ( hands on hips, crossed arms). Language skills are pretty self explanatory but, have you ever stopped to think how the word bad went from meaning something negative to meaning someone not to mess with in the 1980's? The English language alone is one of the most versatile and complex on the planet with words meaning many different things and sometimes meaning contradictory things. Is it any wonder speakers of another language have such a difficult time learning ours? Now think how hard it would be to teach that language to a machine that only knows 0s and 1s.

"From the point of view of the AI vision, we’ve already achieved many of the things the field’s founders used for motivators: for example, a computer beat the world’s chess champ, commercial systems are exploiting continually improving voice and speech capabilities, there are robots running around the surface of Mars, and the Word Processor I’m using to write this comment helps to correct my grammar mistakes. We’ve grown from a field with one conference to one in which many subareas hold well- attended conferences on a regular basis, and where it is rare to see a university that does not include AI in its...
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