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How advanced is Artificial Intelligence?

 

So when you hear the term Artificial Intelligence, your mind may stray to thinking of Sci-Fi characters like “Sonny” in the film “I Robot”, Data from Star Trek, “Marvin, the Paranoid Android”, or even Twiki from Buck Rodgers (yeah you do remember him “BeedeeBeedeeBeedeeBeedee”).

Although great strides have been made in computing, are we yet at the stages of walking, talking side-kicks?

I think the Wiki definitions sums it up well – “Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It is an academic field of study which studies the goal of creating intelligence.”

So what has been achieved so far?

Since Garry Kasparov was beaten at chess by “Deep Blue” the IBM computer, researchers have been working on the ability for software to learn. At Google they have developed an AI system that has taught itself how to win 1980s computer games. It has learned how to play 49 classic Atari games.

Google is also pioneering the self-drive car. Chris Urmson who heads the project says they are committed to fully automated cars within five years. A bit farfetched? Well not really, the latest computer hardware and software now makes it possible to process the vast amount of real-time visual information and raw data like never before. A device can work out where it is, where it has to go, how to plan its route, avoid obstacles, and how to react in a set of circumstances. So you could say this is advanced computer controlled robotics. We just have to get our heads round the concept. In a few years we will not be able to park a car without pressing the “parking assist” button.

We take for granted the ability for a device to learn, adapt and then improve. When was the last time you could type a letter without it autocorrecting something because of our atrocious typing skills? (There its goes again self-correcting “atrocious”). Predictive text and messaging – how does it know what you will say next? It’s just computer software in a very primitive form of learning.

Intelligence and consciousness on the other hand is very different. That causes all the headlines – at what point does a device become self-conscious? Nobody knows, and just that thought alone would send Marvin running to the other end of the galaxy. But not the pioneers of AI who believe we are standing on the verge of something truly amazing.

Now if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard: “this computers got a mind of its own”, (well you know the rest), or maybe it’s just trying to learn how to reverse park!

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