What is 'Artificial Intelligence - AI'

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term for simulated intelligence in machines. These machines are programmed to "think" like a human and mimic the way a person acts. The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is its ability to rationalize and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal, although the term can be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind, such as learning and solving problems.

BREAKING DOWN 'Artificial Intelligence - AI'

Artificial intelligence is based around the idea that human intelligence can be defined in such exact terms that a machine can mimic it. The goals of artificial intelligence include learning, reasoning and perception, and machines are wired using a cross-disciplinary approach based in mathematics, computer science, linguistics, psychology and more.

As technology advances, previous benchmarks that defined artificial intelligence become outdated. For example, machines that calculate basic functions or recognize text through methods such as optimal character recognition are no longer said to have artificial intelligence, since this function is now taken for granted as an inherent computer function.

Some examples of machines with artificial intelligence include computers that play chess, which have been around for years, and self-driving cars, which are a relatively new development. Each of these machines must weigh the consequences of any action they take, as each action will impact the end result. In chess, this end result is winning the game. For self-driving cars, the computer system must take into account all external data and compute it to act in a way that prevents collision 

Controversy Over Artificial Intelligence

Since its beginning, artificial intelligence has come under scrutiny from scientists and the public alike. One common theme is the idea that machines will become so highly developed that humans will not be able to keep up, and they will take off on their own, redesigning themselves at an exponential rate. Another is that machines can hack into people's privacy and even be weaponized. Other arguments debate the ethics of artificial intelligence, and whether or not intelligent systems such as robots should be treated with the same rights as humans.

Self-driving cars have been the subject of controversy, as their machines tend to be designed for the lowest possible risk and the least casualties. While they remove the incidence of human error, this means that if they were put in a situation in which they had to decide between a collision with one person and a collision with another, they would calculate which option would cause the least amount of damage, but would still have to choose one. This is disconcerting to many people who believe that lives should not be put at the mercy of a machine. 

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