I remember how in my elementary classes, I wondered how numbers were denoted and how arithmetic calculations were done before the advent of calculators and computers. Our computer teacher, in a bid to ease my curiosity (a task he was never able to complete), would tell me how number counting and calculations were carried out using fingers, stones, leaves and sticks. I found it quite unbelievable as I would always wonder how big numbers were denoted and how much time would have to be devoted to these almost-impossible exercises. The good teacher, sensing my rising doubts, would go on to tell me about how people of the Dark Age had to undertake tasks that would be termed ‘crazy’ in today’s world, in their everyday affairs. Such tasks included traveling on foot or a beast of burden for days just to relay a piece of information, striking stones together to make fire etc.
Since these revelations were made, I’ve always considered people of that Age as having suffered a lot, considering how easy and effortlessly tasks, hitherto considered impossible, get done now. Calculations involving large numbers can be solved with as little effort as possible through the use of calculative robots in the form of scientific calculators. Someone in Nigeria can easily reach out to another in California (a location in the United States that costs about 15 hours by flight and 3 months by water) in a matter of seconds, through the use of chat bots (embedded in Instant Messaging apps). You can know what time it is in India right now simply by asking Siri, a ‘talking machine’. Cool! Isn’t it?
As humans, we have a long history of yelling at our machines- cars that break down, television broadcasting our failing teams etc. without getting a reaction in the form of response from those machines. But now; our machines understand us. They are even talking back! How? They are bringing out recipes for us in the kitchen in the form of moving robots. They are navigating our car trips — reminding us of tasks that need to be done — finishing our sentences on Internet search engines, and translating foreign languages (e.g. Google Translate). They are performing tasks, earlier limited to humans. Hell, they are taking over! These and many more are products of a 20th Century innovation; Artificial Intelligence.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence is a kind of intelligence demonstrated by machines in contrast to Natural Intelligence (NI) demonstrated by human beings. Alan Turing proposed that “If a human could not distinguish between responses from a machine and a human, the machine could be considered intelligent”.
Apart from intelligence we do something to even humanize these machines. You know what it is? We name them; they freaking have names, yeah, like human names, someone is finding hard to believe. Kismet for instance is the name of a robot with rudimentary social skills, and Talos is an ancient mythical automaton. You see, I wasn’t kidding about the name thing.
It’s a century where machines talk, and guess what, I can’t wait to have my own automaton,robot or whatever their inventors may choose to call them.
Categories: science and entertainment