Artificial Intelligence: An Introduction for Beginners

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Artificial Intelligence: An Introduction for Beginners

Now and then we come across the term “Artificial Intelligence” or more commonly known as “AI”. But have you ever wondered why it is the center of every other discussion? Why are organisations and individuals putting so much capital and effort into it? And what the fuzz is all about? Whether you’re a student wanting to learn a new skill, a professional trying to get onto the AI bandwagon, or simply a curious person, this blog will introduce you to the world of AI. So, what exactly is AI?

Let us first start with a very formal definition of Artificial Intelligence (source: Oxford)

“The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

As it is clear from the definition above, artificial intelligence consists of computers trying to mimic the human behavior and intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence vs Machine Learning vs Deep Learning (source)

But how do we know if machines have learnt enough to be able to have human-like thinking? This is where the Turing test comes into the picture.

Turing Test

A setup of the turing test (source)

In 1950, Alan Turing developed a test (today, known as the Turing test) to check the machine’s ability to mimic a human. The test consists of a basic procedure where a machine and a human being are asked the same set of questions. If the judge, who is unaware about the source of the answers, is not able to identify whether the answers are coming from a human or a machine, the machine is considered to have passed the test and to have human intelligence. The test results do not depend on the machine’s ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely its answers resemble those a human would give.

The goal of the machine is to deceive the questioner into believing that the machine is the human.

Alan Turing predicted that machines would eventually be able to pass the test; in fact, he estimated that by the year 2000, machines with around 100 MB of storage would be able to fool 30% of human judges in a five-minute test. But, till date, there is no concrete proof of a machine passing this test. Although, in 2014, a chatbot named Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy is said to have passed this test by fooling 33% of the judges at the Royal Society in London that it was human (source). But it is still debatable whether it actually passed it or not.

Applications

You must be thinking by now “Come on man, enough of this theory, but where in the world we use it?” Just look around you and you’ll find many things that leverages this technology. Whether it be the Siri (or Google Assistant) in your phones, Alexa in your room or a bot in PUBG (yes, those dumb computer players), all are products of artificial intelligence. It is not just these applications to make use of AI but it is also used in some super-advanced things like self-driving cars, robots which were seemingly impossible back in the day.

Google‘s prototype of a self driving car

To understand where we are in terms of the readiness of this technology, I want to ask a few questions, “Can you trust an AI with your life? Can you sit in a self driving car having no manual intervention and driving all by itself? Are you ok with robot performing your surgery without any doctor’s supervision?”. If the answer to any of these question is “no”, then, you can understand that there is still a lot of developments that are left in this field. Technically, it would not be possible, atleast in the near future, to say that AI can be trusted totally with human lives at stake but the velocity with which the advancements are taking place in the technology, it would not be a far off thing either.

Where we are right now in terms of AI development?

So this was a basic introduction of Artificial Intelligence which is targeted towards people who are just starting in this gigantic field of endless possibilities. Stay tuned for more of these articles on Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Data Science.

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