Thursday, September 27, 2007

Artificial Intelligence - Where Are We Today?

Indeed, we hear a lot about Artificial Intelligence these days, but few people really understand what artificial intelligence really is. Even more confusing to newcomers and novices is that many folks that are in the artificial intelligence field debate its definition. Still compounding the issue is when commercial ventures begin touting their technologies as artificially intelligent driven, when actually they are not.

There are a couple of different categories that those in the field of artificial intelligence fall into. One is those who believe that artificial intelligence is computer software which mimics human decision making or appears to mimic human decision making. Then there is the group that calls themselves purists who believe that neural network processing is true artificial intelligence. Of course we will be discussing both types. We will also touch upon all the different applications, technologies which are or appear to be similar enough, that their creators or marketers have labeled as artificial intelligence.

Today we most commonly find that such applications as search engines on the Internet, autonomous operation and interactive eLearning systems, as well as recognition software for speech, facial features, finger prints, spell checkers, voice, anti-spam programs or algorithms which scan databases to find anomalies. Of course the more intense the application for instance self-driving cars, self-piloted planes, corporate telephone systems, weather prediction, stock trading, military net-centric warfare, automated warehousing or computer space systems the more important artificial intelligence becomes.

It should be relatively easy to see that artificial intelligence has changed our lives as much as computers themselves and in the future even more still with artificially intelligent robotic androids in our homes and decision making computers at work. In the future we will have artificial intelligence running our government, transportation systems, money flows, environment, distribution systems, virtual reality entertainment systems and just about everything you could possibly dream up. Perhaps after reading this book you may in fact think of more applications in your industry?

Is the sky the limit to artificial intelligence? Indeed, it does appear to be and yet perhaps not, as we are already using AI underwater and underground, therefore the sky is not the limit and neither is the ground or anything else in this dimension. Artificial intelligence is not even limited to time, space, energy or matter in a single dimension. In the future humans may have add-on features where man and machine is merged using Artificially Intelligent components. So when we examine where we are today with Artificial Intelligent Systems the answer most appropriate would be; We are at the Tip of the Ice Berg.

The more pressing question is how shall we proceed? Does mankind have the discipline and integrity to continue the forward progression of this technology without sacrificing or risking all we are and all we have built; perhaps that indeed is the greatest question of all?

L. Winslow is a Technology and Economic Advisor to the Online Think Tank, a Futurist and retired entreprenuer. Currently he is planning a bicycle ride across the US to raise money for charity and is sponsored by and all the proceeds will go to various charities who sign up.