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21 June 2023 - 8 minutes

The Origins of Artificial Intelligence

Discover the origins of artificial intelligence and what to look out for in the future.

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Artificial Intelligence

For those of us that have been raised in the era of the internet, basic aspects of our daily life may seem incredibly normal: contacting anyone anywhere in the world with a push of a button, telling Alexa to turn the lights on, or using predictive text to finish your text message. But these are all relatively new inventions that have seriously facilitated the way we live our lives, making it incredibly easier to do practically anything. And what are all these tools called? Artificial intelligence. 

Many think of robots and talking homes when mentioning artificial intelligence, or maybe even a ChatGPT-like tool that can do your job for you. And while these are forms of artificial intelligence and ones that have gained popularity in recent years, artificial intelligence is much more present than we might realize. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to go even a few hours without using some form of artificial intelligence. 

But where did artificial intelligence come from? How did it gain so much power so quickly? Has it only been around for the last ten years? In this post, we’ll cover these questions and much more, explaining the origins of artificial intelligence, some key examples, and what we can expect from the future. 

The Origins of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence isn’t something that’s new; in fact, even ancient civilizations were considering automated tasks to help lighten their workload: the wheel is a great example of an invention that took responsibility from people and moved it elsewhere. Humans were no longer expected to carry heavy weights for long distances; wagons were great ways to automate this task. 

Of course, however, the early history of automated tasks has nothing to do with the artificial intelligence we know today. To facilitate your understanding of artificial intelligence and its journey throughout the years, we’ve put together a timeline, separated into different stages, to show you its birth and progress.

The beginnings of artificial intelligence: 1900-1950

As media portrayals of smart machines or robots entered the mind of the general population, researchers started trying to develop similar tools. Even though there was lots of development and progress throughout the years, artificial intelligence was just taking off and there was lots of room for improvement. 

  • 1900-1950: during this time period, lots of media reflected what would be known as artificial intelligence in the future, such as robots and objects that were able to think or act like humans. 

  • 1920s: the first known use of the word “robot” was by Czechian Karel Čapek and the first Japanese robot was built by Makoto Nishimura. 

  • 1949: Edmund Callus Berkeley published a book that compared newer computers to human brains, exploring similarities. 

The first developments of artificial intelligence: 1950-1956

Now that artificial intelligence as a concept had been defined and was starting to gain usage, researchers began seeing what they could accomplish with the computers they had.

  • 1950: Alan Turing publishes “Computer Machinery and Intelligence” which would be used by experts to measure computer intelligence and opened the eyes of many to the possibilities of artificial intelligence.

  • 1952: Arthur Samuel teaches a program to play checkers, which became the first to play a game independently. 

  • 1955: The phrase “artificial intelligence” is used for the first time by John McCarthy at a workshop, kickstarting its worldwide usage. 

The progress of artificial intelligence: 1957-1974

More and more companies and institutions began dedicating time and money to artificial intelligence, looking for ways they could use these intelligent programs to make their lives easier. 

  • 1957-1974: computers became more widely available and cheaper, in addition to faster and capable of storing more and more information. 

  • 1959: the term “machine learning” was coined by Arthur Samuel

  • 1961: General Motors released their first robotic addition to the assembly line, taking over a job that was considered too dangerous for humans. 

  • 1965: the first “expert system” was released, which was designed to mimic the thinking patterns and decision-making process of humans.

The fast growth of artificial intelligence 1980-2000

With the rise of better technology and proven situations where artificial intelligence was beneficial, artificial intelligence took off and gained traction worldwide. 

  • 1980s: artificial intelligence regained some of its momentum as computers became increasingly skilled and capable of storing vast amounts of data.

  • 1980s: the Japanese government funded expert systems development and artificial intelligence projects, investing $400 million in these technologies. 

  • 1997: international chess superstar Gary Kasparov was beaten by IBM’s Deep Blue, one of the world’s first and simplest examples of an artificial intelligence machine that could function on its own.

  • 1997: Dragon Systems released the first speech recognition software for Windows, which was the first step towards language interpretation. 

Artificial intelligence today: 2000-present

Artificial intelligence has continued to flourish in recent years, providing humans with easier ways to complete even the most basic of tasks. As computers become increasingly capable of handling large amounts of data and understanding how humans make decisions, artificial intelligence will continue to grow and flourish. Almost every tech organization has some sort of artificial intelligence tool in development and we’re eager to see what the future holds. 

Examples of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence isn’t just robots that will take over the world (or your job!). In fact, the best examples of artificial intelligence are the ones we use daily and the ones we take for granted. Now that we know how artificial intelligence came to be, let’s dive into some examples of artificial intelligence in our daily lives and how it’s progressed over time.

Text assistance 

We all know how cool it is to have your phone or computer predict what you’re going to write or type next, but text assistance has evolved over time; spelling and grammar revision used to be the only functions that text assistance artificial intelligence was capable of doing; today, however, our phones can use previous memory to accurately (well, usually!) predict what we are going to type next. 

Driving assistance 

Remember the days of printing out directions and following those to your destination? Those days are long gone, thanks to artificial intelligence technology that’s able to use your current location and data from your surroundings to recommend the best route available, warn you about accidents, and adjust your route if any problems arise. 

But that’s not where artificial intelligence technology stopped when it comes to cars: companies like Tesla have released the first models of self-driving cars. This may seem like something of the future, but this technology uses data from other cars in the area to react and make adjustments. There’s still a lot of work to be done here, but rest assured: this is something to keep an eye on. 

Facial recognition 

Remember when you had to manually enter your password every time you wanted to open your phone or log into one of your accounts?! Maybe not, and that’s because the artificial intelligence technology of facial recognition has transformed our lives, making it easier to access our information securely.

This technology has also advanced incredibly over recent years; what began as facial detection technology (the ability to detect that a human face was looking at the screen) quickly evolved into facial recognition technology (the ability to detect that you are looking at the screen). And an even deeper development was the change that came with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic: the technology advanced to be able to recognize faces even with a mask on! 

We could go on and on because artificial intelligence is rampant and practically everywhere! But we don’t want to bore you too much; let’s move into the future of artificial intelligence and what we can expect in the coming years.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

The future of artificial intelligence is practically limitless; we could go into lots of details about what we expect to see in the future, but we have a better way to explore the future of artificial intelligence; the different types of artificial intelligence can be sorted into four categories: reactive machine artificial intelligence, limited memory artificial intelligence, theory of mind artificial intelligence, and self-aware artificial intelligence. The first two are categories that fully exist in our world today:

  • Reactive machine artificial intelligence: this type of artificial intelligence is the most straightforward and simple; it can react to user input and instructions, but is a bit limited: each task is treated as a new one and the reactive machine will react exactly the same to identical requests, as it is unable to use previous memories or experiences to make adjustments. Some examples include spam filters in your inbox or streaming service recommendations.

  • Limited memory artificial intelligence: this type of artificial intelligence takes reactive machine tools a step further, using its limited memory and real-time data to learn from past experiences and make adjustments as needed. However, it is still limited to the exact task it’s programmed to do. Some examples include chatbots or self-driving cars.

The other two kinds of artificial intelligence have yet to come into existence. The future of artificial intelligence lies in these two areas; artificial intelligence that can act within these two categories will truly transform our world. 

  • Theory of mind artificial intelligence: although it hasn’t hit the general public yet, theory of mind artificial intelligence is being actively developed and researched; when released, this type of artificial intelligence will be truly groundbreaking because it will be capable of understanding and responding to human emotions and thought processes. 

  • Self-aware artificial intelligence: last but not least, self-aware artificial intelligence will be able to not only understand and process the human emotions around it, but also have its own emotions and feelings. This type is far off, but one that will truly transform the field of artificial intelligence when released. 

The future of artificial intelligence is bright and has been since day one. If you’re interested in harnessing this up and coming technology to transform your career and be on the forefront of innovation, this is the field for you. 

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