Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is of great interest in both the world of science and science fiction, maintains to be in our lives as an impressive technological development. AI has come up with a series of events since the 1950s, based on the idea of a machine that mimics the human brain and thinks like a human. So, what have been the highlights of this over the years? Is Skynet coming true? Are we going to turn into cyborgs in the future? Here are 10 things everyone should know about artificial intelligence that you can find answers to all these questions and more.
1- The idea of artificial intelligence dates back more than you think
Did you know that the roots of the idea of a “thinking machine” actually have their origins in about 2,700 years ago now? We find early AI themes, robots and self-moving objects, in the works of Hesiod and Homer, poets of antiquity who lived approximately between 750-600 years.
Many people have heard the story of Pandora unknowingly opening the devil’s box. But according to the original narrative in Hesiod’s own work, Pandora is created by Hephaestus, the God of blacksmithing, as an artificial and evil woman. She is then sent to earth on Zeus’ orders to punish the people for discovering the fire. In another story of Hesiod, a giant bronze ‘man’ named Talos, made by Hephaestus, is mentioned. There is a tube that runs from the head of Talos to one of his feet, and inside it carries the mysterious life source of the gods. According to this story, Talos is also considered as an early robot concept.
In addition, we have learned from Homer that this prolific God of ancient greek mythology, Hephaestus, produced many more self-moving objects, such as automated golden servants who look like women. Hephaestus gave God knowledge to these artificial women he created, so he equipped them with a kind of AI.
2- The term AI and the first running software appeared in 1956
The term was first used by computer scientist John McCarthy at the AI conference at Dartmouth College. Allen Newell, JC. Shaw, and Herbert Simon created the first working AI software program, “Logic Theorist”. After that, it would be necessary to wait until 2002 for the first robot produced for use in homes. This automated vacuum cleaner, called Roomba, created by iRobot, is considered as a major improvement in autonomous robots with its focus on specific tasks.
3- Artificial intelligence is not machine learning
The first AI software was not capable of learning, meaning it could only act to the existing code it contained. So, if this is the machine-adapted version of human intelligence, how about an artificial intelligence that cannot “learn”?
In fact, at the beginning, scientists also pondered this issue. Thus, considering the complexity of the human brain and the difficulty of mimicking it, two different approaches emerged in time: top-down (Weak AI) and bottom-up (Strong AI). A group including Marvin Minsky, one of the leading scientists of the era in this field, advocated the first approach; pre-programming the computer with rules that control human behavior. The second group adopted an approach that made it possible to learn new behaviors using artificial neural networks.
4- It broke the Nazis’ Enigma code in World War II
Enigma was an encryption machine used by the German Armed Forces in World War II to send secret messages. In 1939, Alan Turing created a method called “bombe”, an electromechanical device that enabled the Allies to decipher German encryption, and through he was able to crack the Nazis’ Enigma code. Turing, who also gave his name to the famous Turing Test that measures the ability of machines to think, is called one of the pioneers of Computer Science.
5- Elephants don’t play chess
Artificial intelligence scientist Rodney Brooks published an article in 1990 called “Elephants Don’t Play Chess”. Brooks argued that the top-down approach we mentioned in this article was wrong. He played a major role in increasing interest in the Strong AI approach, suggesting that as an example, the brain needs different modules.
6- Artificial intelligence winter
Commissioned by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1973, Sir James Lighthill prepared a status report on AI. After the comments in the report that the claims in this area could not be fulfilled, the UK cut off funding to this sector, thus starting a kind of artificial intelligence winter that would last until the 2000s.
7- Humans Versus Machines
IBM, which had been interested in chess calculations since the 1950s, produced an AI software called Deep Blue. This supercomputer with transferred thousands of games played up to that day, was capable of evaluating up to 200 million positions per second. As Deep Blue was defeated in 1996 in the first chess match with the world chess champion Garry Kasparov; in 1997, it successfully won the second competition. So much so that Kasparov thought a human was controlling this supercomputer.
After the superiority of artificial intelligence over Kasparov in the 20. century, the situation has not changed much either for the 21. century. In 2011, in a quiz show called Jeopardy, Watson defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the show’s most successful contestants to that day. Unlike Deep Blue, Watson was involving neural networks and was trained for more than 3 years by its producers to recognize models in the face of questions.
8- Artificial intelligence softwares are in many parts of our daily lives
Smartphones and social media have an important place in many people’s routines. However, although we are not aware, AI software appears frequently in our daily lives. If you use a biometric such as fingerprint and facial recognition when you turn on your phone, or if you see ads compatible with your search history on websites you browse, this is all artificial intelligence skill. In addition to friend suggestions and personalization on social media, search engines can also scan the entire internet thanks to AI as well.
Spelling corrections have certainly caught your attention when writing emails via an application such as Gmail. This warns us about word errors using NLP, that is, natural language processing, which is also a subcategory of artificial intelligence. Digital voice assistants such as Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa that are sometimes our right hand, sometimes our copilot, also work with this system.
9 – One of the most frequently used themes of science fiction
Artificial intelligence has been the subject of many science fiction books and movies; and these have inspired scientists and on the other hand have continued to be inspired from them. For instance, Isaac Asimov, one of the most well-known successful science fiction writers, inspired many roboticists and scientists with his imagination. The writer who imagines a computer, storing all information, to which everyone can ask questions, has also written three of his best-known books, Three Laws of Robots, on the fact that the machines we create do not bring us down.
As for cinema, one of the first films coming to mind in this field is undoubtedly the one filmed in 1968 and directed by Stanley Kubrick; 2001: Space Odyssey. In the film, which features the intelligent computer HAL 9000 as a striking example of how artificial intelligence can become bad, Kubrick consulted scientist Marvin Minsky.
Speaking of these issues, we should also talk about the Terminator movies. The first series, filmed in 1984, features an internet network called Skynet, which works with AI software and is connected to all devices. After a while, this system that works very well for people, gets out of control and decides to destroy humanity. This, in turn, claim its place in the history of cinema as an effective example of bad scenarios that question how far the boundaries of artificial intelligence can reach, and assume that it can appear as a threat to humanity in the future.
10- 2050 will be the year when science fiction becomes reality
According to a report by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC CBC), cyborg soldiers are expected to take their place in the army 30 years later. In other words, the year 2050 will be witness to ‘Terminators’; advanced eyes, super ears, stronger and faster healing muscles and skeletons than before… With AI and robotic technologies, ‘super people’ in movies will become a reality.
In Marvel movies, everyone will remember the scenes of the Iron Man character, which Robert Downey Jr successfully played, with his AI assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. In 2050, like Tony Stark, we will be able to communicate with the room we are in thanks to the successful combination of AI and IoT. Just by talking, we can tell it to open the lights or the door and ask what the result of a basketball match is.
In science fiction works, artificial intelligence either lives in harmony with humans like J.A.R.V.I.S. or aims to bring the end of humanity by becoming bad like Skynet. And we will see what really happens by living together.