What you should know before learning Artificial Intelligence

Posted on Posted in Artificial Intelligence

Hey my friends, this is the article 62 / 1000! For those who don’t know me, my name is Selim Chehimi and I’m an engineering student. I’ve been programming for 7 years now so you can tell that I really enjoy that. Those 7 years of programming lead me to Artificial Intelligence. My dream is to build an AI Startup so that’s the reason why I’m sharing this article with you. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Artificial Intelligence has emerged from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace and its impact on society is growing rapidly. Consequently, there is an urgent need for academically trained people with the variety of backgrounds who are familiar with the fundamentals of artificial intelligence. This Article is a brief introduction to understanding what is going on with AI.

History of Artificial Intelligence

Stories about artificially intelligent creatures go back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. We can consider that the modern history of AI began with the brilliant British mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing who is often described as the father of both computer science and artificial intelligence. His most famous achievement was breaking the German naval ciphers at the code-breaking center at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. He is also famous for inventing a test called the Turing Test, in which a machine proves that it is intelligent by rendering a panel of human judges unable to determine that it is not.

Alan Turing (1912 – 1954) 

The arrival of computers and many other ideas about thinking by Turing and others led to « the conjecture that every…feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it ». This was the claim of the organizers of a month-long conference at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the summer of 1956, which quickly became seen as the foundation event for the science of Artificial Intelligence. John McCarthy coined the term « Artificial Intelligence » for the first time as the topic of the conference. In the years following the Dartmouth Conference, some impressive advances were made in AI and they were over-optimistic claims that the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ would be solved within a generation. Unfortunately, it became apparent that AI was going to take much longer to achieve its goal than originally expected so it was very hard for AI researchers to obtain funding. Nowadays, AI has gone mainstream because it works well: small improvements in AI now make millions of dollars for the companies that introduce them. Artificial Intelligence is everywhere and people interact with AI systems many times every day without being aware of it.

Is AI really everywhere?

Artificial Intelligence is all around us. We are not aware of it but if it all suddenly disappeared, we would notice it immediately. The most common example of AI is your smartphone. Did you know that this little device has more processing power than the computers that NASA used to send Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969? Your smartphone is using powerful AI algorithms to offer predictive text and speech recognition services.

When you visit an online store like Amazon, the fact that the products you want are on the shelf is due to AI. It’s the same thing for your Facebook feed: several AI algorithms are showing you what could interest you the most.

Another example would be Google. Nowadays, many people make several internets search a day (Google carries out 40.000 searches every second). That is an application of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, Google is an AI Company.

The list is tremendously long and I can’t put all the examples in this Article but I hope that you now understand why Artificial Intelligence is everywhere.

The basics of AI

Basically, there are 3 different types of AI:

  1. The Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)
  2. The Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
  3. The Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

Let’s take them one by one.

  1. An ANI or Weak AI is specialized in one area. For example, Deep Blue becomes in 1997 the first computer chess-playing program to beat the world chess champion. Deep Blue is an ANI because it can only do chess.
  2. Then you have the AGI. At the risk of oversimplifying, an AGI is as smart as humans, it can perform any intellectual task that a human being can.
  3. Finally and by far the scariest one: the ASI or the Artificial Superintelligence. Here is how Nick Bostrom (one of the best AI thinker) defines it: “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field”.

We have successfully created the ANI (the first one), but we’re yet to do the AGI. The problem with AGI is that it’s hard because the simple task of recognizing a dog from a cat is incredibly difficult. Many experts are saying that the first AGI will be created in 2040 or 2050… And do you know what then can happen? The AI explosion (defined by the well-known mathematician IJ Good). Basically, if an AI reaches our level of intelligence, it will be able to understand the world around it like a 4 years old child and it’s going to learn and self-improve bit by bit. The more it improves, the more it gets smarter. It will solve complex problems like the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity. And suddenly, it will become a Superintelligence: 170.000 times more intelligent than a human. What’s an AI with a 12942 IQ looks like? I don’t know. However, I’m convinced that the spectrum of intelligence extends much more than we currently conceive. If we build that superintelligence, it will explore that spectrum in a way that we can’t imagine. When this ASI will come, we’ll be either immortal or gone. A Superintelligence can’t be good for humanity as intelligence always implies power. Think of ants, we don’t hate them, but we simply don’t care because we are smarter. The reality is that if Aunt conflicts with one of our goals, we simply destroy them without pity. The same scenario can occur with a Superintelligence.

So, what’s the solution? To Nick Bostrom, we must create an AI that uses its intelligence to learn what we value, in other words: a safe AI. For others like Sam Harris, we must consider that the safest and only prudent path forward recommended is to implant this technology into our brain. A startup called Neuralink (followed by Elon Musk) is working on it.

If you want to learn more about the AI explosion, I’ve made a video to explain it here:

Thanks so much for reading, that’s the end of Article 62. Please, share it and don’t forget to follow me on social media. You can also subscribe to my newsletter below to never miss any article. Don’t hesitate to tell me what you think of this Article in the comments and stay tuned for another one tomorrow!


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