Lately I’ve been reading a lot in newspapers and magazines about Artificial Intelligence. The name refers to computers and such machines that duplicate the thinking process of real intelligence, which is done by the human brain.Artificial Intelligence is always capitalized, unlike real intelligence. One might expect that to be the other way around, since human beings used the real intelligence they were born with to create the machine with the artificial kind.It also seems strange that human beings can use their uncapitalized intelligence to create machines that think better and faster than they do.
I did some poking around the vast amount of material about Artificial Intelligence on the Internet, and came upon what seem to be the earliest stirrings of the phrase.A conference at Dartmouth University was organized in 1956 by four scientists to consider the proposal that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it”.Many of the scientists and mathematics experts who attended became important figures later during the early decades of research on the subject.John McCarthy, who had begun as a child prodigy mathematician and was then on the faculty at Stanford University, was the attendee who suggested “Artificial Intelligence” as the term to describe computer programs which seemingly exhibit intelligence, by performing tasks which would require a human to be intelligent. Don’t ask me for any details about Artificial Intelligence mathematics, or plain old genuine intelligence mathematics, for that matter. I was always good at handling words and facts, but numbers tend to tumble around in my noggin and often fall out.So I appreciate what the Artificial Intelligence industry is doing now for guys like me. I read a list in a magazine recently of some of the things computers now do with programs in their installed Artificial Intelligence (and most likely never make a mistake, as most of us humans are prone to do occasionally.)Translate foreign languages into English.Provide legal advice.
Cook meals and do other household chores (often with voice commands.)Study a medical patient’s test result and produce a diagnosis.Provide limited vision for some who are vision-impaired.Evaluate the emotional intelligence of a patient and give advice as a trained psychologist.Strangest of all in the predictions of what Artificial Intelligence may do is the idea that as these brainy computers put together giant amounts of data and information, it will speed up advancements in science and technology.One article on the subject maintains that as Artificial Intelligence continues to put together giant amounts of information, it will gradually speed up the advancing of technological change.Some experts say that Artificial Intelligence may in a single generation produce more technological breakthroughs than the human race has accomplished during the first 20,000 years of its existence!Sounds impossible. But then I think back to the days when I would stand on a stool and crank up the phonograph so my grandfather could listen to records, and today my little great-grandson watches things on his little computer, and I wonder what new technology he will be taking for granted by the time he’s an old retired guy.I wonder what Artificial Intelligence will be up to then.