Artificial Intelligence

Last update : August 9, 2013

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science which aims to create it.The term was coined by John McCarthy in 1955. The field of AI research was founded at a conference on the campus of Dartmouth College in the summer of 1956. The attendees, including John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon, became the leaders of Artificial Intelligence research for many decades.

Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (GOFAI)

AI research began in the mid 1950s after the Dartmouth conference. The field AI was founded on the claim that a central property of humans, intelligence, can be so precisely described that it can be simulated by a machine. The first generation of AI researchers were convinced that this sort of AI was possible and that it would exist in just a few decades.

In the early 1970s, it became obvious that researchers had grossly underestimated the difficulty of the project. By the 1990s, AI researchers had gained a reputation for making promises they could not keep. The AI research suffered from longstanding differences of opinion how it should be done and from the application of widely differeing tools.

The field of AI regressed into a multitude of relatively well insulated domains like logics, neural learning, expert systems, chatbots, robotics, semantic web, case based reasoning etc., each with their own goals and methodologies. These subfields, which often failed to communicate with each other, are often referred as applied AI, narrow AI or weak AI.

The old original approach to achieving artificial intelligence is called GOFAI. The term was coined by John Haugeland in his 1986 book Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea.

Weak Artificial intelligence

After the AI winter, the mainstream of AI research has turned with success toward domain-dependent and problem-specific solutions. These subfields of weak AI have grown up around particular institutions and individual researchers, some of them are listed hereafter:

Peter Norvig, Google’s head of research, and Eric Horvitz, a distinguished scientist at Microsoft Research, are optimistic about the future of machine intelligence. They spoke recently to an audience at the Computer History Museum in Palo Alto, California, about the promise of AI. Afterward, they talked with Technology Review‘s IT editor, Tom Simonite.

A few AI searchers continue to believe that artificial intelligence could match or exceed human intelligence. The term strong AI, now in wide use, was introduced for this category of AI by the philosopher John Searle of the University of California at Berkeley. Among his notable concepts is the Chinese Room, a thought experiment which is an argument against strong AI.

Strong Artificial Intelligence

Strong AI is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. Strong AI is associated with traits such as consciousness, sentience, sapience (wisdom) and self-awareness observed in living beings.

There is a wide agreement among AI researchers that strong artificial intelligence is required to do the following :

  • reason, use strategy, solve puzzles and make judgements under uncertainty
  • represent knowledge, including commonsense knowledge
  • plan
  • learn
  • communicate in natural language
  • integrate all these skills towards common goals

Other important capabilities include the ability to sense (see, …) and the ability to act (move and manipulate objects, …) in the observed world.

Some AI researchers adopted the term of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) to refer to the advanced interdisciplinary research field of strong AI. Other AI researchers prefer the term of Synthetic Intelligence to make a clear distinction with GOFAI.

The following links provide some informations about the history and the concepts of Artificial Intelligence :

A list of organizations and institutions dealing with Artificial Intelligence is shown below :

“Artificial intelligence is no match for human stupidity!”