Coined by John Mcarthy in 1956 the concept of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined has changed over time. With that said the AI at its core has always been about creating a computer, a machine, a robot or a software program that can think intelligently, just like a human.
AI as a concept is a much broader than merely a smart computer or a robot as it is generally thought to be. Rather AI is about creating a machine/ computer or software which can mimic and function just like an intelligent human brain functions. It also makes sense to base AI on the human brain as we humans are the most capable to observe, understand and act in accordance to our environment.
And that is where the challenge lies, creating an intelligence artificially that can from the information provided or collected, learn, observe, understand and provide solutions and take actions and at the same time it should be intelligent, rational and ethical.
In other words, AI is a branch of computer science whose main purpose is to create machines and software as intelligent as humans.
Broadly AI has two major purposes:
- Create expert systems: Systems which exhibit intelligent behavior, learn, demonstrate, explain, advice and provide solutions to its users.
- Implement human intelligence in machines: Create systems that understand, think, learn and behave like humans.
To further understand or break down the concept of AI we need to understand that AI as a technology or a science is not an independent one but depends heavily on other branches of science such as computer science, engineering, psychology, mathematics, linguistics and biology.
The ability of a system to calculate, reason, perceive relationship and analogies, learn from experience, store and retrieve information from memory, solve problems, comprehend complex ideas, use natural language fluently, classify, generalize, and adapt new situations. All these abilities together create what we call intelligence. Also, there can be multiple type of intelligence, linguistic, mathematical-logical, musical, interpersonal, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic to name a few. You can say a system has artificial intelligence when it is equipped with at least one at the most all of these intelligence.
When we consider the above reasoning we realize that AI is no longer a thing of future, it is in the here and the now. Consider automated cars, virtual reality gaming, factory process flows that require no human interventions. Consider "Siri" or "Alexa" personal assistants who understand human speech and understand what we want or need. Look at services like Apple store or Youtube which suggest us various new music and videos based on what we have previously watched or showed interest in.
In closing, there are only small and simple examples of what AI is capable of. As AI grows exponentially it is imperative to consider its long term impact on the environment and human race.