WTF is Artificial Intelligence!

What if in future, robots rule the world and humans live in cages?

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. But of course, Einstein had it easy. Being one of the pioneers of modern physics, his imagination was all he needed and what got him so far, specially in an era when scientists and philosophers were busy shaping the foundation of what we know today. But is imagination enough today? Of course, it forms the basis of innovation but is an active imagination enough to keep the wheel going? Or is there more than one factors that govern what our future would be like? Could intelligence be the other piece of the puzzle?

If so, then what is intelligence?
To be honest, how we define intelligence is fairly subjective. While for some, it is the ability to interpret complex data, for others it’s the ability to solve problems. One of the greatest therotical physicists and comologists, Stephen Hawking defines intelligence as the ability to adapt to change. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, described the ability to change as the measure of intelligence. Speaking broadly, human intelligence can be defined as the ability to learn from experiences, adapt to new situations and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.

What is artificial intelligence or AI?
Well, there is no fixed definition that would define artificial intelligence.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines AI as the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour. Yale University defines AI as ‘sensor-controlled behaviour, in which a machine acts in the real world using information gathered from sensors such as sonars and cameras’. Stanford, on the other hand, says that AI is the ‘science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs’. To put it simply, AI is a set of codes that attempt to replicate human thought.

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How do you know if a machine is intelligent?
A million dollar question is that how do we know if a machine is intelligent or if it’s smart enough? And since we have clearly established that intelligence can hold varied interpretations, it’s important to have a generalised basis to judge the machine intelligence. There are many tests that help in determining the intelligence level of AI. Turing test is the most basic test and says that a machine is intelligent if it can mimic human under a given set of conditions.

However, many experts believe that a machine mimicking intelligence is not a sign of intelligence. So they formulated another test called the Chinese Room test, in which a machine takes in Chinese characters as input and by following the instructions of a computer program produces other Chinese characters as output. The test focuses on the understanding ability of a machine- if the machine actually understands Chinese or if it’s giving out an illusion of knowing Chinese.

What is strong AI and what is weak AI?
There are no means by which artificial intelligence can be classified. Strong and weak AI are primarily based on the purpose that an AI is built for. While Strong AI is basically an intelligent machine that can think and act like the human mind, a weak AI on the other is a machine that is made to look intelligent using pre-defined codes.

What are the risks associated with AI?
With AI we are entering into an unchartered territory which has just started to be explored. And with every technology comes a certain degree of risk factor. Any potent technology in wrong hands can prove to be catastrophic, which is true for AI as well. Moreoever, AI understands only what it is programmed to know and lacks evolving capabilities as of now. Therefore, an AI can be made sensitive enough to identify and differentiate parameters in a high-risk situation, which in turn will depend on how well it is programmed. We all know what a mess Ultron created in Avengers!

Where can AI be deployed?
For a technology that is still in its nascent stages, there’s a world out there to be explored. Having said that, it’s worth mentioning that AI is already being deployed in medicine, in law firms and in manufacturing. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Facebook’s Jarvis are some of the most popular AI.