“Artificial Intelligence” is currently the hottest buzzword in tech. And with good reason – after decades of research and development, the last few years have seen a number of techniques that have previously been the preserve of science fiction slowly transform into science fact.
Already AI techniques are a deep part of our lives: AI determines our search results, translates our voices into meaningful instructions for computers and can even help sort our cucumbers (more on that later). In the next few years we’ll be using AI to drive our cars, answer our customer service enquiries and, well, countless other things.
But how did we get here? Where did this powerful new technology come from? Here’s ten of the big milestones that led us to these exciting times.
Getting the ‘Big Idea’
The concept of AI didn’t suddenly appear – it is the subject of a deep, philosophical debate which still rages today: Can a machine truly think like a human? Can a machine be human? One of the first people to think about this was René Descartes, way back in 1637, in a book called Discourse on the Method. Amazingly, given at the time even an Amstrad Em@iler would have seemed impossibly futuristic, Descartes actually summed up some off the crucial questions and challenges technologists would have to overcome:
“If there were machines which bore a resemblance to our bodies and imitated our actions as closely as possible for all practical purposes, we should still have two very certain means of recognizing that they were not real men.”
He goes on to explain that in his view, machines could never use words or “put together signs” to “declare our thoughts to others”, and that even if we could conceive of such a machine, “it is not conceivable that such a machine should produce different arrangements of words so as to give an appropriately meaningful answer to whatever is said in its presence, as the dullest of men can do.”
He then goes on to describe the big challenge of now: creating a generalised AI rather than something narrowly focused – and how the limitations of current AI would expose how the machine is definitely not a human:
“Even though some machines might do some things as well as we do them, or perhaps even better, they would inevitably fail in others, which would reveal that they are acting not from understanding, but only from the disposition of their organs.”
So now, thanks to Descartes, when it comes to AI, we have the challenge.
Image Credit: Techradar
News This Week
Frank Boehm (Nanoapps Medical Inc. Founder) has contributed to 'Platelet-Rich Plasma Applications for Achilles Tendon Repair: A Bridge between Biology and Surgery', published by International Journal of Molecular Sciences/ MDP. Abstract: Achilles tendon ruptures [...]
Using both mouse and human brain tissue, researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect the central nervous system and have begun to unravel some of the virus’s effects on [...]
A deep learning algorithm developed at MIT has discovered new antibiotics that can treat drug-resistant diseases by killing 35 powerful bacteria. The pathogens that the halicin antibiotic has targetted include Acinetobacter baumannii, which was nicknamed [...]
In our transforming world, digital technology has the critical mass to push our frontiers and release unlimited potential. As the wave of digital transformation soars high, improving our lives, industries and economies, we must not [...]
Scientists Discover a Way to Control the Immune System’s “Natural Killer” Cells With “Invisible” Stem Cells
UC San Francisco scientists have discovered a new way to control the immune system’s “natural killer” (NK) cells, a finding with implications for novel cell therapies and tissue implants that can evade immune rejection. The [...]
A team led by scientists at Georgia State University simulates the precise transition between the processes of DNA synthesis and proofreading DNA replication is one of the most important processes in biology, responsible for ensuring [...]
Everybody loves Neandertals, those big-brained brutes we supposedly outcompeted and ultimately replaced using our sharp tongues and quick, delicate minds. But did we really, though? Is it mathematically possible that we could yet be them, [...]
From a small discovery to producing at scale, photojournalist David Levene documents the groundbreaking work of the scientists of Oxford University during the development of a vaccine which is now poised for approval by medicines regulators. [...]
Optical tweezers are a rapidly growing technology, and have opened up a wide variety of research applications in recent years. The devices operate by trapping particles at the focal points of tightly focused laser beams, [...]
In what is believed to be a medical first, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have enabled a quadriplegic man to control a pair of prosthetic [...]
Antibodies are remarkable biomarkers: they are the cues that provide us with indications about many diseases and how our immune system counter them. Now a group of scientists from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata [...]
Scientists used human white blood cell membranes to carry two drugs, an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, directly to infected lungs in mice. The nano-sized drug delivery method developed at Washington State University successfully treated both [...]
The quantum sensing abilities of nanodiamonds can be used to improve the sensitivity of paper-based diagnostic tests, potentially allowing for earlier detection of diseases such as HIV, according to a study led by UCL researchers [...]