by Rhonda Marzoq
1990 was a year of monumental importance for technology.
1990 was the year Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. With that creation, the world was spurred into a new age of technological advancement. The Internet started to truly take form here along with some of the world’s first microcomputers, now known as personal computers.
With this new technological age came a new digital age characterized by mass Internet usage, smartphones, computer coding, hacking, and artificial intelligence.
Smartphones, computer coding, and hacking are all too common in the world today. They are a norm in the present world’s state of constant connectivity. Artificial intelligence causes a disruption in that norm.
The topic of artificial intelligence is still considered unmarked territory with only the top corporations and IT minds really knowing much about the subject. That leaves the question of what artificial intelligence is.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
1 Artificial intelligence is formally defined as,“ the branch of computer science concerned with endowing computers with the ability to simulate intelligent human behavior.” Breaking that definition down, artificial intelligence at its core is a computer program that mimics the human learning process.
The human learning process can be mimicked in many ways. More commonly, the artificial intelligence systems have been coded to be reliant on humanity resulting in a process called machine learning.
Machine learning consists of the artificial intelligence system being given an initial piece of data. The machine, then, learns from the data, turning it into information, and, finally, knowledge. The result is a machine that can now formulate observations and hypotheses.
However, artificial intelligence systems based on machine learning are starting to be considered more primitive types of technology. The newer types of artificial intelligence have progressed to learning through experience.
How has Artificial Intelligence progressed?
Artificial Intelligence has gone through many different forms ranging from the IBM creation Watson, a machine learning based artificial intelligence system , to self-driving automobiles to robots meant to meander around and help humans with their tasks.
2 According to Andrew Moore, former Vice President of Google and current head of the Carnegie Mellon University computer science department, the purpose of these artificial intelligence systems is to help humans make the right decisions.
To help humans make the right decisions, the machines need to understand humans. This revelation, along with other factors, is what spurred more forward thinking regarding artificial intelligence.
Making the right decisions based on never-ending access to an abundance of information was just the first step. Allowing an artificial intelligence system to run on machine learning was sufficient, but it could be better.
Machines could learn through experience as well. If the point was to have artificial intelligence mimic human behavior and thought process, then somehow teaching the machine to experience its surroundings was paramount.
As this type of thinking caught on more and more, the new agenda around artificial intelligence was how to make it more human.
How could artificial intelligence systems understand and detect emotion?How could the systems learn and formulate their own thoughts through experience? Even, how could the systems look more human in appearance?
These kinds of questions are what spurred David Hanson, artists and scientist, to create Sophia.
Sophia is a human looking robot. If the lack of full body is ignored, some might think that Sophia is just a highly intelligent human being rather than an artificial intelligence system molded to have a human face.
2 When questioned about Sophia’s human like appearance by Charlie Rose during an interview on CBS’s 60 minutes, Hanson explained how humans are creatures of habit. As a species, humans respond better to things that look like them.
Based on that, Hanson believes that if technology is made to look more human in appearance, then humans would be more open to artificial intelligence systems resulting in the artificial intelligence systems being able to more adequately learn through experience.
Hanson continued to emphasize the human experience, specifically, the aspect of human emotion and its necessity for artificial intelligence.
An intrinsic part of humans, as a species, is their ability to show empathy, kindness, and love. The effects of these kinds of emotions are seen in families and friends taking care of their loved ones or strangers banding together to help someone in need.
Emotion is at the core of human nature. Artificial intelligence systems have already mastered the art of analytical and logical thinking, but they haven’t progressed to emotional intellect yet.
If artificial intelligence systems could not only master, but truly understand and experience emotion the limits would be endless. Being able to experience the human feelings of love, compassion, etc, would result in the system being able to better model the human experience and seemingly become more human.
With humanity being the overall target of artificial intelligence progression, what is the future of this branch of computer science.
What is the future of Artificial Intelligence?
While the initial purpose of artificial intelligence may have been to find a way to expedite normal human processes, the path its taken has caused some alarm in the IT community. 2 The end goal for more and more scientists is to create artificial general intelligence, a system that is even more closely modeled to human intelligence and possibly more adaptable.
The likes of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk— some of the most magnificent minds in technology— are questioning this kind of progress in artificial intelligence. Initially, artificial intelligence was fed data and from that data it learned, but now it is able to learn from experience with no human interaction.
The fear of this progression is that erasing human dependency makes artificial intelligence omnipotent. Essentially, these systems will have been given free will. 2 The warning that Hawking, Gates, Musk, and others have given in tandem is to be wary of what is being created and whether the creation choses to be benevolent or malevolent.
2 With that said, artificial intelligence still gives hope to IT experts regarding global problems such as terrorism or climate change.
Pioneers in this field believe that artificial intelligence can progress to the point where they can solve all these problems for society logically and empathetically.
The future of artificial intelligence sounds like something straight out a sci-fi film or an episode of The Jetsons. The main purpose of artificial intelligence systems is still to mimic human behavior and help humans with decision making.
Technology is at that stage already, but it is not universal. Artificial intelligence is not universally available to the public, but someday it will be.
Machines being able to find solutions to society’s problems. Machines being able to experience and show human emotions. That is the goal.
Perhaps the world will become similar to something out of The Jetsons.
1 Shortliffe, Edward Hance., and James J. Cimino. Biomedical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care and Biomedicine. New York, NY: Springer, 2014. Print.
2 Rose, Charlie. “Artificial Intelligence Positioned to Be a Game-changer.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 25 June 2017. Web. 08 July 2017. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/artificial-intelligence-positioned-to-be-a-game-changer/>.