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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the area of computer science focusing on creating machines that can engage on behaviors that humans consider intelligent. The ability to create intelligent machines has intrigued humans since ancient times, and today with the advent of the computer and 50 years of research into AI programming techniques, the dream of smart machines is becoming a reality. Researchers are creating systems which can mimic human thought, understand speech, beat the best human chess player, and countless other feats never before possible.


The field of artificial intelligence truly dawned in the 1950s, since then there have been many achievements in the History of artificial intelligence, some of the more notable moments include;

1950: Alan Turing introduces the Turing test to test of a machine's capability to perform human-like conversation.

1951: The first working AI programs were written to run on the Ferranti Mark I machine of the University of Manchester: a checkers-playing program written by Christopher Strachey and a chess-playing program written by Dietrich Prinz.

1956: John McCarthy coined the term "artificial intelligence" as the topic of the Dartmouth Conference.

1958: John McCarthy invented the Lisp programming language.

1965: Joseph Weizenbaum built ELIZA, an interactive program that carries on a dialogue in English language on any topic.

1966: Machine Intelligence workshop at Edinburgh - the first of an influential annual series organized by Donald Michie and others.

1968: HAL 9000 made its appearance in the science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey

1972: The Prolog programming language was developed by Alain Colmerauer.

1973: Edinburgh //Freddy// Assembly Robot: A Versatile Computer-Controlled Assembly System

1974: Ted Shortliffe's PhD dissertation on the MYCIN program (Stanford) demonstrated the power of rule-based systems for knowledge representation and inference in the domain of medical diagnosis and therapy. Sometimes called the first expert system.

1997: The Deep Blue chess program (IBM) beats the world chess champion, Garry Kasparov.aibo.jpg

1999: Sony introduces the AIBO, an Artificially intelligent pet.



When playing games like SOCOM: US Navy Seals, artificial intelligence remembers the movements and actions you used in one mission to challenge you in the next one. Other games, such as 3D Realms' Max Payne, use an "auto-dynamic difficulty" feature that analyzes a player's skill level and adapt the sophistication of enemy responses with regard to the player's aptitude.

In addition to adversarial applications, programmers have often created algorithms by which A.I. may play games much in the way humans play them. One such project has been developed by programmer Colin Fahey, in which a webcam equipped computer has been "taught" to play Tetris by optically analyzing the playing field. A flowchart detailing the process by which Fahey's A.I. analyzes and decides upon a move can be found here.

A more famous example is IBM's much exalted supercomputer "Deep Blue", a chess-playing machine that, in May 1997, was the "first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion (Garry Kasparov) in a match under standard chess tournament time controls".

Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding/Processing

A.I. is responsible for speech recognition in computers. For instance, in a Gateway M285 Tablet PC you can speak and have the computer type out your words. Microsoft Office also features speech recognition, but Microsoft concedes that "you'll get the best results if you use a combination of your voice and the mouse or keyboard."

Natural Language understanding AI are popular among technical support solutions, as well as for entertainment purposes. A popular example of such a "chatbot" can be found in Colloquis, Inc's "Smarterchild" Instant Messaging bot, who delivers information, entertainment, and targeted advertising to its users. An award, the Loebner Prize, is awarded for excellence in the creation of such a Natural Language A.I. "Each year an annual prize of $2000 and a bronze medal is awarded to the most human-like computer."

Humanoid Robotics

One huge stride in Artificial Intelligence is the ASIMO robot from Honda. ASIMO has five recognition features which include face, sound, environment, posture, and moving objects. ASIMO can judge distance and greet someone when they come near to it. It can also respond to someone waving to them or shake someone's hand when offered. When it is spoken to it can respond by turning and facing the person it is speaking to. It will also respond to falling objects and thing moving into its path. When an object is encountered in its path it will move around it. ASIMO can recognize and remember up to ten people, like friends. When it recognizes someone, ASIMO can respond to them and address them by their name.

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Web Resources

A.I. On the Web


Turing Test: "a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test." As of 2006, no A.I. has passed this test.

Automatic Programming : The task of describing what a program should do and having the AI system 'write' the program.

Bayesian Networks : A technique of structuring and inferencing with probabilistic information. (Part of the "machine learning" problem).

Constraint Statisfaction : solving NP-complete problems, using a variety of techniques.

Knowledge Engineering/Representation : turning what we know about a particular domain into a form in which a computer can understand it.

Machine Learning : Programs that learn from experience or data.

Natural Language Processing(NLP) : Processing and (perhaps) understanding human ("natural") language. Also known as computational linguistics.

Neural Networks(NN) : The study of programs that function in a manner similar to how animal brains do.

Planning : given a set of actions, a goal state, and a present state, decide which actions must be taken so that the present state is turned into the goal state

Robotics : The intersection of AI and robotics, this field tries to get (usually mobile) robots to act intelligently.

Speech Recogntion : Conversion of speech into text.

Search : The finding of a path from a start state to a goal state. Similar to planning, yet different...

Visual Pattern Recognition : The ability to reproduce the human sense of sight on a machine.

[Note: The majority of these terms are quoted from the Artifical Intelligence FAQ, written by Ric Crabbe et al.]

Moral and Ethics

There are good and bad effects of artificial intelligence. Yes, it can help us and further technology. It can create robots that can do dangerous jobs like bomb defusing. There are people who have their reservations about robots and artificial intelligence. Some believe that once it is started a snowball effect will occur. They believe that eventually the robots will start becoming self-sufficient and no longer need humans to continue to exist. No one knows for sure if that could happen or if it will. This snowball effect is commonly referred to as "hard takeoff". This term refers to the possibility of a roughly-human-level artificial general intelligence(AGI), focusing some of its attention on modifying its own codebase, with the goal of making itself more intelligent. This should, in theory, lead to an exponential increase in intelligence. There is no way, however, to determine the exponent in how quickly the intellegence will increase and there is always the possibility that some unforeseen limits to the intelligence achievable by intelligence-increase-directed self-modification will be discovered. The term "seed AI" is sometimes used to refer to an AGI that carries out intellegence-increase-directed self-modification, leading to a hard takeoff. As stated before, no one knows for sure when a "hard takeoff" could be possible. In practical use today, the idea of a hard takeoff seems highly unlikely. Artificial Intelligence programs in practial use today are extremely primitive and their morality is not a serious issue. The AI programs are intelligent in their respected domains, but they lack autonomy. AI programs are currently operated by humans and are integrated into physical-world activity directly through human actions. In todays world, if an AI program were to do anything immoral, it would be due to a human setting up the progam to do to accomplish that task.


"Game Matters: Auto-dynamic difficulty"
"Using speech recognition", Microsoft Office
"Tetris AI: computer plays Tetris"
"IBM Deep Blue"
"Turing Test"
Loebner Prize Home Page
Artificial Intelligence FAQ