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What is Artificial Intelligence? How Does AI Work?

Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by David Baddeley

Artificial Intelligence

Human intelligence has delighted scientists for many years. They are looking for answers to the following questions: How do we collect information from the environment? How do we remember them? How do we build our knowledge from them? How do we use them to act and solve problems? How do we make decisions?

Knowing the answers to these questions allows you to build a machine that works like a human. “Smart” machines can help people in their daily work, make life easier for us. They save you time and money. These “smart” machines are precisely artificial intelligence (AI for short). That is why I will present the most important thing you should know about artificial intelligence:

What is artificial intelligence?

Everyone has heard of it, but what exactly is artificial intelligence (or AI)? By artificial intelligence it generally refers to the faculty, possessed by any non-human entity, to carry out intelligent operations, which would require a capacity for calculation, foresight, and planning characteristic of purely human intelligence. The most common version of AI today is that of computers that perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

There are two versions of AI: “restricted” AI, that is, the one we use more and more in our daily lives (such as search engines, spam filters and vacuum robots) and “general” (or fully developed) AI, which one day it will be able to operate independently of humans. Restricted AI is designed to perform a number of specific tasks with varying levels of effectiveness, including facial and voice recognition, pattern recognition, and search capabilities. General artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is still a science fiction topic, but as a concept it is an important component of the history of artificial intelligence.

A brief history of artificial intelligence

The concept of artificial intelligence was born from the myths of the metal automata built by the Olympian gods of ancient Greece and traces the history of computer machines dating back to before the industrial revolution. However, the idea of ​​computer-related artificial intelligence was developed thanks to the father of modern computing – Alan Turing.

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This British computer scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptographer worked at the Bletchley Park facility to decode German communications during World War II. In 1950 he published an article entitled “Machinery and computer intelligence”, proposing what would become known as the “Turing Test”: a criterion to determine the difference between a human being and a machine through a series of questions.

The current term “artificial intelligence” was first used in relation to computers in the 1950s, coined by American computer pioneer John McCarthy. Since then, the evolution of computers has gone hand in hand with the development of AI, and machines and software capable of performing increasingly complex “intelligent” operations have been created.

Examples of artificial intelligence

With the expansion of the digital world, the development of applications based on artificial intelligence has exploded in recent years and has spread to almost all areas of the economy. It will soon be easier to list what AI-based technologies do not involve rather than the other way around. Here are some examples of applications of artificial intelligence today:

Autonomous car

Although it is not yet the norm, autonomous cars will soon be inevitable. They will populate our streets and will probably become the main means of transportation for people. These vehicles, which use AI to detect their surroundings and avoid accidents and obstacles, are not that different from commercial jets, which mostly fly in autopilot mode with self-adjusting instrumentation.

Language apps: machine translation, speech recognition

Artificial intelligence is capable of translating from one language to another and interpreting a speech with increasing naturalness and fluency. All this, combined with AI applications capable of handling large amounts of data, has allowed the development of innovations such as digital assistants Siri, Alexa and their competitors.

Pattern recognition in different contexts

The ability of computers not only to process large volumes of data for specific purposes, but also to calibrate the nuances of language use and learn from mistakes (see below) allows AI to use data interpretation for better results. in all areas from general business applications and customer care, cancer diagnostics, financial trading algorithms, and weather.

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Robotics and the Internet of Things 

Robotics and artificial intelligence fuel the development of machines capable of replacing workers for specific tasks in sectors ranging from complex manufacturing to microsurgery and military action. AI also makes device sensors smart in the Internet of Things category: the sensor-equipped toothbrush not only detects information about how we brush, but also tells us how to do it better.

Advantages of artificial intelligence: smart technologies by our side

You may think that you have not had the opportunity to witness AI many times, however I tell you that even in science fiction / fantasy movies (like Terminator) they involve the presence of murderous humanoid robots or other unpleasant situations, the AI ​​technology is aimed at main make our daily life easier. Here are some of the key benefits of artificial intelligence applications:

  • Go Where Humans Can’t – There are workplaces that are toxic or dangerous to humans, and AI technology can reach us. From laboratories to mines to ocean trenches and planets, AI robotics can handle jobs that aren’t considered safe for humans.
  • Accuracy and precision in complex situations or data: a doctor cannot read all the research articles published so far, but theoretically intelligent cognitive software can. Ideally, a highway full of autonomous vehicles could put an end to traffic accidents. AI can push the boundaries of human attention, dictated by fear, distractions, and emotional reactions, and make quick, fact-based decisions in a flood of situations, leaving humans time to deal with less predictable operations involving non-systematized nuances and the intervention of emotions. intelligence.
  • Perform repetitive tasks: Although the fact that human workers can be replaced by robots generates some anxiety, AI allows us to get rid of boring, predictable and repetitive tasks. Machines don’t need to take breaks and, in both simple and complex situations, they are less prone to errors.
  • Simplifying everyday life: Beyond your most ambitious goals, AI provides a number of simple solutions for everyday life: smart thermostats that learn heating and cooling needs and create a perfect home environment, applications that map routes in cities according to transport schedules, too. as a better management of the relationship with the client, marketing and sales in the most diverse sectors, from online retail to industrial machinery.
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Machine learning vs artificial intelligence

It’s one thing to program artificial intelligence to perform a predictable operation, it’s quite another for robots or software to get smarter over time. Although these are two closely related terms, “machine learning” is not synonymous with artificial intelligence. AI is a generic term that defines all the cases in which a machine can work intelligently.

The key to the development of machine learning technology, on the other hand, has been teaching computers to learn by themselves. With machine learning, the software can go beyond executing smart trades and learn from your mistakes and successes using accumulated algorithms, data, and experience. Thanks to machine learning, AI becomes smarter and less error-prone as it is used.

The use of artificial neural networks (ANN) that allow computers to categorize information in a way similar to that of the human brain has introduced a more developed form of machine learning called ‘deep learning, which aims to solve increasingly complex problems. Applications of machine learning technology are already being used in different contexts: from financial consulting to healthcare, to the aforementioned autonomous cars, which scan the surrounding environment and improve the ability to detect objects throughout. weather.

The impact of artificial intelligence on our lives and its role in our future

Artificial intelligence already has a huge impact on our lives: it powers our smart devices, it helps us shop (online and offline) and research, and it helps doctors diagnose. But how do you get here? To get the complete picture, we look at the history, benefits, key concepts, and future projections of AI use. Here’s our journey to discover artificial intelligence, from Alan Turing’s earliest insights to the latest developments in machine learning.

David is a software developer with hands-on experience in analysis, designing, development, and delivery of Android apps. His key skills include knowledge of Core Java, JSON & XML Parsing. He’s also a foodie. So, either you’ll find him at his desk busy in building interesting mobile apps or at a restaurant relishing some new cuisine.

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