What is artificial intelligence (AI) and why our future depends on it?


Most people have heard about AI or artificial intelligence but very few people truly understand what the term really means. Most of us will associate artificial intelligence with artefacts like Hal 9000 computer from the 2001 movie: A Space Odyssey or Skynet from the movie Terminator. Our Perception of artificial intelligence today is mostly shaped by Hollywood movies and fantasies, rather than the kind of research that takes place in the labs across the world.

To put it simply artificial intelligence is a field of computer science that deals with simulating intelligent/human-like behaviour in computers. A truly artificial-intelligent machine can learn from its own. We are talking about things like neural networks which allows AI to get better with each iteration, correct mistakes and improve its knowledge without having to rely on a pre-defined behavioural algorithm.

what is artificial intelligence(AI)?


How close are we to developing a real artificial intelligence?

The answer to this question depends on what you consider to be “artificially intelligent”.  Basic AI capabilities such as voice recognition, face recognition, computer vision,self-driving car systems are already being developed and are in widespread use.

  • Recently google’s AI AlphaGo defeated the best go player(Ke Jie) in the world, surprising many since go is an extremely complex game with more possible positions in a game than the atoms in the universe.

Nobody truly knows how long it will take to develop a “real” artificial intelligence.

But here’s  the interesting bit, human Progress is exponential! Technological growth is getting faster and faster with every passing year.  According to Ray Kurzweil,(a famous computer scientist,author,inventor and futurist from MIT), a person from 1750 will be blown away by 2015 as much as we will be by 2030.

Why our future depends on artificial intelligence?

Is artificial intelligence good or bad? We don’t know for sure but most people will agree that artificial intelligence is inevitable.

There are people on both sides:

  • People who believe AI can potentially destroy our future and lives, especially if we fail to fully align the AI’s goals with ours, which is a challenging task in itself. Public figures like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been advocating for research in precautionary measures to ensure AI remains under human control. Elon Musk once famously said “AI’s a rare case where we need to be proactive in regulation, instead of reactive. Because by the time we are reactive with AI regulation, it’s too late”.
  • The other group of people is fairly optimistic and believes AI can help us in solving most problems that exist today. Once AI becomes prevalent, it can be used for various things. It can help us in predicting accurate weather forecasts, tackling household chores such as cooking, cleaning up the environment and reducing effects of air and water pollution, autonomous driverless cars,military,doctors and more.

I recently finished reading a book called Life 3.0: Being Human in the age of artificial intelligence by Max Tegmark and it really changed the way i think about AI. In his book, Tegmark discusses various issues relating to AI and invites all of us to participate in setting goals for the development of artificial intelligence and AI safety. I would highly recommend giving this book a read, especially if you are an AI enthusiast like me(As a bonus, even Elon Musk recommends it 🙂 ).

Watch this thought-provoking video from lemmino.

Regardless of whether we develop superintelligence in the next few years or decades, The reality is that AI will have a dramatic impact on all aspects of our lives and it will happen before we even realize.

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