What is Artificial Intelligence?

What is not Artificial Intelligence?

“I believe that at the end of the century, the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” 

                         ― Alan Turing, Computing machinery and intelligence

What is Artificial Intelligence?

The best non-technical way to understand artificial intelligence is in the following way: AI is demonstrated by a machines' ability to understand, think and act on a problem in the same way a human would in the same situation. But there is no limit placed on the shell (form) the AI will take. AI can manifest itself invisibly on servers far away from the human eye, working on advanced problems. It can take the form of a self-driving car, parts of a factory, or even in the future some sort of advanced robotics. It´s crucial to understand the lack of set limits on the forms AI can and will take now and in the future. This makes the realm of possible AI application almost limitless. 

Of course, AI is more complex and involved than that. We will go over all of the various aspects of AI and its applications, but this is a good general sentence to remember when understanding everything else that will be written on the topic. Additionally, I've added two sections below to help you understand a little more what AI is and what it's not. So let's get started and learn something about artificial intelligence and one of the most interesting innovations that will shape the next 100 years of the world.

Artificial Intelligence is Not Androids.

It's crucial to understand that not all AI are androids and that not all androids have AI. However, the vast majority of AI-related news articles and other materials depict AI as some version of an android that will physically operate through this shell and will replace workers in this way. Breaking this conception of AI is critical to understanding the impact of artificial intelligence on everyday life, work, transactions, etc., in any meaningful way.

First, considering AI as robots will lead many people to believe the threat of automation and job loss are radically overblown. People will look at even the most advanced robots and think they are too crude, clumsy, slow, or generally inefficient to replace anyone, much less themselves, in all but the most extreme cases. 

Second, thinking of AI as robots drastically reduces our ability to comprehend what AI truly is and what it can be in the future. Thinking of AI purely as an android is the equivalent of thinking of cars are motorized horses, jets as motorized birds, and submarines as motorize whales. While these would be excellent examples to help someone who had never seen any of these technologies, or how they operate, these definitions do not help with the greater understanding of what these technologies are and could mean for their lives. 

There Are Multiple Levels of Artificial Intelligence:

Narrow, General, Super

The next step in understanding how artificial intelligence works is to gain a better understanding of the stages (capabilities) of artificial intelligence programs. So here they are, one-sentence definitions:

  • Narrow AI: these are systems good at doing one thing as good as or better than humans would do them. Think DeepBlue, AlphaGo.

  • General AI: These systems are good at doing a broad array of things as good as or better than a human would do them. These systems are still in development.

  • Superintelligent AI: These systems are better than humans at everything and do not need human assistance. These systems do not exist and may not exist for a while.

More in-depth explanations about narrow, general, and superintelligence are available on the site in the section on Intelligence (Narrow, General, Super).

Quick overview of AI to get you started.

Learn about what AI really is.

What are the different levels of AI, and how do they compare to each other. 

Why is AI more important than ever?

A great way to understand the different ways AI presents itself to us.

Learn about what jobs are prime targets of AI now and in the future.