An executive guide to artificial intelligence, from machine learning and general AI to neural networks.
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?
It depends who you ask.
Back in the 1950s, the fathers of the field Minsky andMcCarthy, described artificial intelligence as any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task.
That obviously is a fairly broad definition, which is why you will sometimes see arguments over whether something is truly AI or not.
AI systems will typically demonstrate at least some of the following behaviors associated with human intelligence: planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, knowledge representation, perception, motion, and manipulation and, to a lesser extent, social intelligence and creativity.
WHAT ARE THE USES FOR AI?
AI is ubiquitous today, used to recommend what you should buy next online, to recognise what you say to virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, to recognise who and what is in a photo, to spot spam, or detect credit card fraud.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF AI?
At a very high level artificial intelligence can be split into two broad types: narrow AI and general AI.
Narrow AI is what we see all around us in computers today: intelligent systems that have been taught or learned how to carry out specific tasks without being explicitly programmed how to do so.
This type of machine intelligence is evident in the speech and language recognition of the Siri virtual assistant on the Apple iPhone, in the vision-recognition systems on self-driving cars, in the recommendation engines that suggest products you might like based on what you bought in the past. Unlike humans, these systems can only learn or be taught how to do specific tasks, which is why they are called narrow AI.