What is It?

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The definition that you learned for Artificial Intelligence was:

An area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem as though they have human intelligence

Please make sure you remember this.

So far, so good. Please note that we are not even thinking about the machines actually having human intelligence, we just want it to seem as though they do.

It's actually really, really difficult to achieve this.

Let's take a look at how long scientists have been working on this:


1943 - during World War II, scientists from various disciplines started thinking about intelligent machines.
1949 - a neurologist, Grey Walter, developed tortoise robots.
1949 - the world's first commercial digital computer, BINAC, which stored programs, was developed in the US
1950 -" I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov, was published, introducing the fictional three laws of robotics.
1951 - Claude Shannon developed electronic mice that could solve mazes and remember the solutions.
1956 - the term 'Artificial Intelligence' was coined at a conference in Dartmouth, organized by John McCarthy.
1955 - 1956 Logic theorist, a program supposed to mimic human problem-solving techniques sometimes called the first AI program, was developed.
1963 - the start of the Dept of Defence's Advanced research Projects, which developed the foundation of the Internet

1961 -"2001, A Space Odyssey" predicted what might happen with an Artificial Intelligence. HAL was interviewed by the BBC.

1966 - 1972 Robot Shakey could reason about its own actions (watch 0:40 - 3:40)
1970 - the Microworld approach SHRDLU. SHRDLU showed a huge improvement in natural language processing
1973 - AI was in trouble. Funding was slashed.
1981 - Expert systems saved the day! they were among were among the first truly successful forms of AI software
1991 - Ai used effectively during the Desert Storm battles.
1997 - Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess, first defeat of a reigning world chess champion to a computer under tournament conditions.
2002 - Roomba, the first home robot!
2008 - the Apple iPhone produces the first reasonably acceptable, affordable, speech recognition system
2008 - Google developes the Pribot, a Prius modified to fetch pizza on it own
2012 - 1.5 million home automation systems installed
2015 - Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking say that A.I. poses a threat to mankind
2016 - AlphaGo beats a top human player at Go


Go to your Google Drive, and drag the 'History of A.I.' document from 'Shared with me' to your A.I. folder.

When instructed, answer the questions.

Question 1: What do you think was the most fascinating or important breakthrough in the early days of A.I. ? Give your reasons.

A.I. robots have been programmed with differently planned brains, called the 'architecture'. One way was to have the robot know quite a lot just about one small area, the world that it dealt with. SHRDLU (1970) knew a lot about the blocks on a table beneath its robot arm. Remember that at this time, computers didn't have colored screens or Graphical User Interfaces. You can see a conversation with SHRDLU here.

Other robots knew nothing about their world, that is, their architecture is different. Read about Herbert, the Soda-Can Stealing Robot, developed around 1988. You can see a video of Herbert.

Question 2. What was the difference between SHRDLU’s intelligence, and Herbert’s intelligence?

Question 3: How intelligent do you think they would look, if you didn't know anything about them?

Going back to the timeline, you can see that around 1970, the first Expert System was developed.

What is an Expert System?


Let's look at A.I. applications.