The history of artificial intelligence (AI) began in antiquity, with myths, stories and rumors of artificial beings endowed with intelligence or consciousness by master craftsmen; as Pamela McCorduck writes, AI began with “an ancient wish to forge the gods.”
In the 1940s and 50s, a handful of scientists from a variety of fields (mathematics, psychology, engineering, economics and political science) began to discuss the possibility of creating an artificial brain. The field of artificial intelligence research was founded as an academic discipline in 1956.
In 1950 Alan Turing published a landmark paper in which he speculated about the possibility of creating machines that think. He noted that “thinking” is difficult to define and devised his famous Turing Test. If a machine could carry on a conversation (over a teleprinter) that was indistinguishable from a conversation with a human being, then it was reasonable to say that the machine was “thinking”.
Marvin Minsky, then a 24-year-old graduate student, in 1951 (with Dean Edmonds) built the first neural net machine, the SNARC. Minsky was to become one of the most important leaders and innovators in AI for the next 50 years.
The latest human jobs to be taken by robots include video game playing and trading stocks. For the time being the mode of development has been to accomplish x task. And every year they are beating humans in one thing or the other.
Anyways, the history of AI is long and confusing. So let us look at some of the real deals in the recent past:
2006: A 3D Printer called RepRap builds a copy of itself at the University of Bath. Well, it could build most of the components except things like motors and sensors. They intended for the RepRap to demonstrate evolution in this process as well as for it to increase in number exponentially.
2009: Google builds self driving car. They have self-driven more than 1.5 million miles and are currently out on the streets. They use their sensors and software to sense objects like pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and more, and are designed to safely drive around them. Like any driver, a self-driving car needs to constantly answer these questions. Where am I ? What’s around me ? What will happen next ? What should I do ?
2010: Lola Canamero’s Nao, a robot that can show its emotions. “We’re modelling the first years of life,” said Lola Cañamero, a computer scientist at the University of Hertforshire who led the project to create Nao’s emotions. “We are working on non-verbal cues and the emotions are revealed through physical postures, gestures and movements of the body rather than facial or verbal expression.”
2010: Microsoft launched Kinect for Xbox 360, the first gaming device to track human body movement, using just a 3D camera and infra-red detection, enabling users to play their Xbox 360 wirelessly. The award winning machine learning for human motion capture technology for this device was developed by the Computer Vision group at Microsoft Research, Cambridge.
2013: NEIL, the Never Ending Image Learner, is released at Carnegie Mellon University to constantly compare and analyze relationships between different images. It hopes to learn something that much of humankind arguably has trouble with – common sense. NEIL – who uses the tagline “I crawl, I see, I learn” – has been running since 15 July 2013 and has analysed millions of images and learned thousands of common sense relationships.
2014: Vladimir Veselov’s and Eugene Demchenko’s program Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy – characteristics that are intended to induce forgiveness in those with whom it interacts for its grammatical errors and lack of general knowledge. Goostman won a competition promoted as the largest-ever Turing test contest, in which it successfully convinced 29% of its judges that it was human.
2015: An open letter to ban development and use of autonomous weapons signed by Hawking, Musk, Wozniak and 3,000 researchers in AI and robotics.
2016: Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol 4-1. Lee Sedol is a 9 dan professional Korean Go champion who won 27 major tournaments from 2002 to 2016. Before the match with AlphaGo, Lee Sedol was confident in predicting an easy 5-0 or 4-1 victory.
2016: Microsoft’s twitter bot becomes offensive. Tay was designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old American girl, and to learn from interacting with human users of Twitter. Tay caused controversy on Twitter by releasing inflammatory tweets (racism, evil intent, genocide etc) and it was taken offline around 16 hours after its launch.
Kurzweil, an American computer scientist, describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies like artificial intelligence. He says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans’ ability to comprehend it.
It is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence whose cognitive abilities could be, qualitatively, as far above humans’ as human intelligence is above ape intelligence.