Artificial intelligence making the news

Everyone is talking about the free-access Chat GPT released in early December last year (2022). It uses artificial intelligence to generate reasonably sophisticated copy. One journalist wrote an article for the ABC that suggested it was good enough to pass some medical exams. Another from the Sydney Morning Herald got the bot to write the article.

The first use of artificial intelligence

The term artificial intelligence was first coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, a computer scientist at Dartmouth College. McCarthy and a group of researchers organised a conference on the topic. It aimed to explore the possibility of creating machines that could “think” like humans. At the conference, McCarthy defined AI as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”

John McCarthy was an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the field of artificial intelligence (AI). He was born 4 September 1927, in Boston, Massachusetts, and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1951.

McCarthy received numerous awards and honours, including the Turing Award in 1971, the National Medal of Science in 1991, and the Japan Prize in 2008. He died in 2011 but his legacy and ideas continue to influence the field of AI.

A brief history of AI

After the Dartmouth conference, AI research focused on developing algorithms that could mimic human cognitive processes, such as learning, problem-solving, and pattern recognition. The field of AI faced a number of setbacks in the 1960s and 1970s, due to a lack of funding, a lack of progress in achieving the ambitious goals set by researchers, and a general sense of disappointment with the field.

In the 1980s AI began to regain momentum. Advances in computer hardware and the development of new AI techniques such as expert systems, neural networks, and genetic algorithms helped to rekindle interest in the field. With the internet, AI became more accessible and began to be integrated into various industries, such as finance, healthcare, and retail.

With the rise of big data, cloud computing, and deep learning, AI systems have become much more powerful and sophisticated. Today, AI is being used to automate repetitive tasks, improve decision-making, and even create new products and services. From self-driving cars, to voice assistants, to medical diagnosis, AI has become an integral part of our lives.

Some artificial intelligence terms to know

When you are talking about AI there really are some terms you should know:

  • Machine learning (ML)— a subfield of AI that focuses on the development of algorithms and statistical models that enable systems to learn and improve from data, rather than being explicitly programmed
  • Neural networks—a type of machine learning models that are inspired by the structure and function of the human brain, used for tasks such as image recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing
  • Deep learning—a subset of machine learning that uses artificial neural networks with multiple layers to improve the accuracy and performance of machine learning models
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)—a subfield of AI that deals with the interaction between computers and human languages, specifically in terms of understanding and generating human language
  • Robotics—a field of engineering that deals with the design, construction, and operation of robots, often used in AI systems
  • Computer vision—a field of AI that deals with the development of algorithms and systems that enable computers to interpret and understand visual information from the world, such as images and videos
  • Expert systems—AI-based computer programs that mimic the decision-making abilities of a human expert in a specific domain
  • Cognitive computing—a field of AI that deals with the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as understanding natural language, recognising images and making decisions
  • Autonomous systems—systems that are able to operate independently and make decisions on their own, often using AI techniques
  • Reinforcement learning—a type of machine learning that focuses on training models to make a sequence of decisions and learns to optimise a given reward function

The future of AI

Let’s leave the last word on the future of AI to Vladimir Putin:

AI is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.

Watch this space!