Beyond Limits: Artificial Intelligence

Beyond Limits: Artificial Intelligence

-Aman Baldia


Artificial Intelligence is the science of making computers and intelligent machines showing human intelligence. It is the branch that aims to make machines think like humans. This attempt at creating systems that understand, learn and think like humans aim to give machines the sense of reasoning, problem-solving, natural language processing, learning, planning, and creativity. Today, we are surrounded by systems that use artificial intelligence. May it be the daily usage of Google Maps, the spam filter in your email, Facebook search, Instagram text to emoji conversion, Snapchat filters, Google Now or Siri, AI-based applications are more and more constituting for what systems we use on a regular basis. However, with the increase of interest in developing and bettering Artificial Intelligence, there has been more and more debates about what is its impact on mankind. The current pop culture has only added fuel to fire where sci-fi movies based on an evil robot trying to destruct the globe, a robot army invasion of space and a future full of robots more intelligent than men have added to the fear. Sadly, not all of it is a figment of imagination and is a very much possible event of the future. However, before going there we will take a short detour to look at the history of Artificial Intelligence.


The ones who have seen the famous Hollywood movie named The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch would be well aware of the name of this famous computer scientist Alan Turing who understood the beginning of A.I. He was an English scientist who broke the Nazi Enigma Machine’s code and helped bring WWII to an end using Artificial Intelligence. He came up with the famous Turing Test which stated that a computer could be said to “think” if a human interrogator could not tell it apart, through conversation, from a human being. Modern-day A.I. researchers today use the Turing Test as a benchmark that any artificial intelligence should have to pass. However, the original test wasn’t intended for whether a robot could pass for human. The idea of a self-autonomous robot walking, talking and thinking wasn’t a concept then. Another major game changer for Artificial Intelligence is the neural networks which basically aim to copy the neurons found in the cerebral cortex (part of the human brain responsible for memory, attention, perception, cognition, awareness, thought, language, and consciousness), though it was found before AI itself. It consists of trained algorithms which decide output responses dependent on input signals. In the human cortex, each of the 15 billion neurons is connected to 10,000 neurons each. Input neurons feed the rest with data (sound, vision, pain). Output neurons trigger muscles reaction. Thinking neurons are hidden in between the two. They all learn by changing the strength of connections that define how strongly neurons influence each other. Similarly, computer science has seen the finding of recurrent neural networks that aims at self-improvisation. The machine keeps improving itself and improvises things inside it.


Coming back to the point of impact of Artificial Intelligence on mankind, the same has been positive as of now. With the development of Artificial intelligence, we are looking at major leaps taken in the field of computer science where we are having self-driven cars, robots led medical operations, easy access applications, more realistic gaming, improve in robotics, etc. In October 2017, we had Sophia, a robot be given citizenship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Though it was mostly a public relations exercise, it is looked at as another milestone for the fields of robotics and Artificial Intelligence. In 1941, a computer controlled by a program could roughly perform one elementary function per second. According to estimates, every five years, computers become 10 times faster. Thus, since the last 75 years, computing has become million billion times cheaper. At such a rate in the next 25 years, we can look at a computer having 100,000 billion electronic connections which are equivalent to the human brain, in a few decades, a computer may have the computing power of all the human intelligence combined. A computer can even be given the power to redesign and duplicate itself. The most important part is that a self-learning computer is stopped by only limits of computability and physics. However, the limit estimated today for what computers can achieve in spite of these limitations is much larger than the computational powers I just stated that a computer can achieve in the next few decades. Thus, leading scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and for the matter of fact, Alan Turing himself all predict the possibility of mankind being taken over by robots. Elon Musk stated that he should be blacklisted from working on AI due to the ill it may cause in the future. Stephen Hawking stated that just like how people program computer virus, there might be someone who might create a self-improving AI which keeps improving itself till it is superior to people causing a new form of life.  Though Artificial Intelligence cannot be specifically used to make a machine think evil as of now, there might come a scenario that the system gets so involved in achieving its final goal of perfection that it starts seeing people as a deterrent to its final goal. However, it cannot be denied that Artificial Intelligence can be used to reach places where humans cannot reach due to their physical limits. Instead of the concept of black holes used in movies like Interstellar to travel across galaxies in order to make these movies human-centric, it’s much more possible that a machine, which doesn’t have any speed or age constraint can actually reach there in the future.


Quite literally for Artificial Intelligence, sky or I may say space is also not the limit.

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