What is Artificial Intelligence?

What is Artificial Intelligence?


Artificial intelligence (AI) is extensive branch of computer science involved in building intelligent machines capable of doing tasks that the typically need human intelligence.  AI is a interdisciplinary science with multiple approaches, but improvements in machine learning and deep learning are creating a paradigm shift in virtually every sector of the tech industry.

Less than a decade later breaking up the Nazi encryption machine Enigma and also helping the Allied Forces win World War II, mathematician Alan Turing changed history a second time with a very simple query:”Can machines think?”

Turing’s paper”Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950), and it’s following Turing Test, based that the fundamental goal and vision of artificial intelligence.

At it’s core, AI is the branch of computer science that aims to answer Turing’s question in the affirmative.  It’s the job to replicate or mimic human intelligence in machines.

The expansive goal of artificial intelligence has given rise to many questions and debates.  So much so, that no singular definition of this area is universally accepted.

Within their revolutionary post Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, authors Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig approach the question by unifying their job around the theme of smart agents in machines.  With this in mind, AI has been”the analysis of agents that receive percepts in the environment and execute actions.”  (Russel and Norvig viii)


Norvig and Russell go to research four different approaches that have historically defined the area of AI:

Thinking rationally

Acting reluctantly

Acting rationally


The first two ideas concern thought processes and reasoning, while the others deal with behaviour.  Norvig and Russell focus especially on logical agents that act to achieve the best outcome, noting”all the skills required for the Turing Test also permit an agent to behave rationally.”

Patrick Winston, the Ford professor of artificial intelligence and computer science at MIT, defines AI as  “algorithms empowered by constraints, exposed by representations that support models targeted at loops which tie thinking, perception and action together.”

While these definitions may seem abstract to the average person, they help focus the field within an area of computer engineering and provide a blueprint for infusing machines and applications together with machine learning and other subsets of artificial intelligence.

While addressing a crowd at the Japan AI Experience in 2017, DataRobot CEO Jeremy Achin began his address by offering the following definition of how AI is used now:

“AI is a computer program capable to perform jobs which ordinarily need human intelligence… Many of those artificial intelligence systems are powered by machine learning, a number of them are powered by deep learning and a number of them are powered by very dull things like principles .”


Artificial intelligence generally false under two broad classes:

  • Narrow AI: Occasionally referred to as”Weak AI,” this kind of artificial intelligence works within a limited context and can be a simulation of human intellect. Narrow AI is frequently focused on doing one task extremely well and while these machines may seem intelligent, they’re operating under far more constraints and constraints than even the most fundamental human intelligence.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): AGI, sometimes known as”Powerful AI,” is the kind of artificial intelligence we see in the films, like the robots out of Westworld or Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. AGI is a system with general intelligence and, similar to a human being, it may apply that intelligence to solve any difficulty.


Narrow AI is all around us and can be easily the most successful understanding of artificial intelligence to date.  Together with its focus on executing particular jobs, Narrow AI has experienced numerous discoveries in the last decade that have experienced”significant societal benefits and have led to the economic power of the nation,” based on”Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence,” a 2016 report published by the Obama Administration.

Some examples of Narrow AI include:

  • Google search
  • Image recognition software
  • Siri, Alexa and other personal assistants
  • Self-driving cars
  • IBM’s Watson