In the words of late Stephen Hawking, ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.’
The seed for artificial intelligence was planted way before World War II. However, it caught the entire world’s attention when Alan Turing designed the Turing Test in 1950. It was a test of the machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. On 11th May 1997, Deep Blue became the first computer chess-playing system that had beaten a world chess champion, namely Garry Kasparov.
Fast forward 100 years and Ray Kurzweil joins Google further developing one of the most upcoming branches of artificial intelligence called Deep Learning. Deep-learning software tries to imitate the activity in layers of neurons in the neocortex, which is the wrinkly 80 per cent of the brain where all our thinking occurs. This software learned to recognize algorithmic representations of sounds, images, and other data.
Today, Alexa told me the weather, Siri booked my cab to work, Google Assistant helped me sort emails and Cortana is helping me write this. All these are virtual assistants powered by AI and developed by Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft respectively.
Hence, we see there is a surge in the AI technological development because with each experiment AI programs get smarter and better at completing the given tasks. The very ground on which the AI technology was built, is its ability to learn from the datasets continuously. The more the data collected and analyzed, the better the machine gets at solving algorithms and making predictions. For example, when you’re unsure of what you want to watch on Netflix, it makes suggestions based on your previous viewing choices. It’s quite similar to a newborn baby seeing new things each day and grasping new concepts and learning in the process.
The development of this technology is divided into three phases. These are called ANI, AGI and ASI. The first stage was called Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), which refers to the time when the scope of intelligence was limited to only one function. Then, came the second stage called Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). During AGI, AI has grown to an advanced level covering multiple fields like the power of reasoning, problem-solving and abstract thinking. A lot of people believe we are currently in this second stage of transition. Whereas, the third stage is Artificial Super Intelligence which suggests that it’ll be the final stage of AI growth where it will exceed human intelligence in all fields.
AI aims to solve problems of data security, private security, financial trading, issues in healthcare systems, online search and natural language processing. And these are not all; smart cars will also be a part of the masses very soon. For example, Elon Musk is ensuring that he can modernize travel not just on earth but space as well. Similar to the development of electricity, the use cases of AI are undefined. They can be anything and everything, from fraud detection to big data.
The future potential of AI has attracted scientists, business leaders and politicians alike because of the financial prospects it promises. But no one knows what form will this technology take, as all its developments are met with either fear or celebration. Some fear that AI will cause the largest mass unemployment that history will ever see while others celebrate it as a milestone in human greatness. Either way, AI has touched our daily lives and will continue to do so for every individual, so it’s better to prepare for what lies ahead in our future