An Artificial Nutshell

When you ask people what AI is, the answers are quite different. For some it is “something with robots” others succeed to narrow it down to smart software, but for  most it’s as understandable as black holes and quantum computing; it sounds fancy but no clue what it is and discussing the subject is soon to complicated to do in a relaxed setting like those coffee-in-a-circle-with-family occasions we now and then have.

“AI is something with robots”

AI is not one field of study, it still surprises me that people try to explain it as a singular subject. Artificial Intelligence is the center of merging crossroads of many different disciplines, one as important as the other.

From Machine learning to Neuroscience, Linguistics, (Predicate) Logic, Mathematics, Philosophy and a ton of other (sub)fields. Each discipline fulfills a different role in our journey to a successful AI.

Neuroscience studies the functions and processes of the brain, by which we model the structure of “smart” software in order to make it as efficient as the brain. The brain works as a source of inspiration. Machine learning attempts to copy certain learning aspects and processes from the brain’s behavior in order to train machines to learn, to “grow” ( let’s use quotation marks since grow has a pretty wide definition). Linguistics breaks down how we use, produce and recognize language, something that Cortana is still not capable of doing unless your communication is limited to  three word sentences with not to many difficult clamping tones, like: “open internet explorer”. And yes she still opens my file explorer….

Philosophy is like the unwelcomed guest at the party, asking difficult questions for others to solve. But it has a deepening function regarding the subject. It broadens the scope of AI.

Point being made, AI is a lot of things. We are tempted to simplify a difficult subject into one understandable definition, unfortunately that will work counteractively since it will make us understand it even less.

Image: Beth Rakouskas, imaging courtesy of Arthur W. Toga, USC Laboratory of Neuro Imaging; computer connectors: Hans Joachim Roy/Shutterstock

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