A brief history of artificial intelligence

The concept of artificial intelligence began as pure fiction, something to be imagined but never actually existing. Today, we know that that’s no longer the case. Artificial Intelligence is real and there are already real-world applications where artificial intelligence is helping us solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity. We’re still a ways off from creating true artificial intelligence but we’re getting closer every day. Here’s a look at how artificial intelligence has developed through the years.

Greek myths

The earliest known reference to something we could term artificial intelligence dates back to the ancient Greeks. According to their mythology, Hephaestus, the blacksmith of Olympus created life-like metal automatons that were created to carry out certain functions.

The birth of science fiction

The concept of artificial intelligence stays relatively quiet until the early 19th century when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, considered by many to be the first true science fiction novel because of the emphasis on the use of scientific methods and equipment to create a semi-intelligent monster. This novel gave way to more science fiction, some of which deal with the theme of robots and robots taking over humanity.

The first computer that was never made

Charles Babbage, a Victorian era inventor designed the first computer (on paper anyways) in 1822. It was designed to carry out mathematical calculations. He died before he could build his device which he called the Difference Engine but based on his designs, the machine could have worked had it been built and would have been the first computer.

The Turing Machine and the Turing Test

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician who helped bring World War II to an end by using his Turing Machine to break the German’s code. He is considered the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He is also famous for coming up with the Turing Test which is designed to differentiate between computers that can be said to have artificial consciousness and computers that can’t.

Dartmouth Conference

In the summer of 1956, the scientific field of artificial intelligence was born over the course of a month long conference held at Dartmouth College. The boundaries of the field were set and plans were made to recreate human intelligence in a machine.

Hot and cold seasons

Researchers left the Dartmouth Conference with a lot of research money and optimism. Early AI researchers quickly realized that creating artificial intelligence was going to be a lot harder than they previously thought. This led to discouragement, lack of funding and very little progress in the field of AI in the early 70s and 80s though there were also resurgences as well.

AI in Hollywood and the real world

This brings us to today. Artificial Intelligence is now a part of our pop culture thanks to dozens of Hollywood movies that deal with the concept of artificial intelligence. Many of these portrayals are negative and depict robots overthrowing humanity, but some are more nuanced and treat the subject in a very thoughtful way. Artificial intelligence is now a part of our daily lives thanks to personal assistants like Siri and Cortana.

Source: History Extra

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