Artificial Intelligence – or AI – is the term applied when a machine mimics the cognitive functions typically attributed to a human in order to carry out a certain task. The ultimate goal of AI is to create a computer that can think like a human.
Drawing on computer science, mathematics and psychology amongst other areas of study, AI has traditionally been the result of carefully designed hand-crafted algorithms. However, developments in machine learning have since resulted in algorithms that can adapt to new forms of data without being explicitly programmed.
AI has continued to advance, and in many instances when tested has been found to outperform its human counterpart. From virtual assistants to flying drones, AI continues to permeate our daily lives in a variety of ways, and is being credited for reimagining entire industries.
1956 - A workshop at Dartmouth College (US) becomes the first location for research into the field of AI. Attendees and students successfully develop computers capable of solving word problems in algebra, and speaking English.
1970s - Edward Shortliffe introduces MYCIN to the medical profession. The AI system is used to identify infectious bacteria and prescribe appropriate treatment. Research finds MYCIN to propose an acceptable therapy in 69% of cases, better than the performance of infectious disease experts judged on the same criteria.
1997 - IBM-developed Deep Blue becomes the first chess-playing computer to defeat a reigning world champion in a game of chess.
2015 - AI enters the mainstream as online retailer Amazon launches Amazon Machine Learning, a service providing developers of all skill levels with access to machine learning technology at affordable prices.
AI has long been used in the field of medicine. Recently, scientists have shown that AI can be used to identify hallmarks of skin cancer as accurately as board-certified dermatologists. Elsewhere in the US, AI is being used to deliver anaesthesia, helping to reduce costs for organisations in the process.
Another industry that has been quick to adopt AI is finance. AI now accounts for 75% of financial trading volume, being used to analyse data and recommend actions based on the trends and patterns it identifies, with machine learning also being harnessed to predict future stock market prices.
More recently, advancements in AI have resulted in the development of autonomous cars in the automotive industry. Companies including Google and Apple are developing self-driving cars capable of maintaining a safe environment for passengers by adapting to speed and driving conditions, as well as surroundings.
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