Man has always been trying to develop machines that make his day-to-day work easier. New techniques are developed on a continual basis to improve the functioning of already existing one. With advancements in science and technology, machines are taught to handle more complicated tasks; in short they are made more intelligent than the previous forms. Artificial intelligence is nothing but inducing intelligence into machines externally. The history of artificial intelligence can be traced back to the period of 800 B.C. Egypt. The Egyptians had constructed a statue of Amun that could move its hands up and down. One can say that the statue of Amun served as an inspiration to make further progress in the field of artificial intelligence.
Brief History of Artificial Intelligence
The huge database of information and knowledge that we have gathered over years through research and technological advancement is being used in creating superior machines. Speech recognition, playing chess, driving vehicles without human intervention, etc., are different tasks that robots and other machines perform.
Simple Mechanical Machines
The first mechanical digit calculating machine was developed by Pascal in the year 1642. It was improved by Leibniz in 1673 to create 'Step Reckoner', a machine capable of performing additional functions of multiplication and division. Later, in the 18th century, many different mechanical toys were developed. Vaucanson's mechanical duck and Von Kempelen's mechanical chess player are the best examples of such toys.
The concept of formal logic was popularized by Bertrand Russell in the beginning of 20th century. Alfred North Whitehead too, presented his research on this topic through a book called 'Principia Mathematica'. It was also during this period that Karel Capek coined the term, robot. Development of electronic computer later in the 40s decade made it easy to manipulate numbers and symbols.
It is a computer program written by Allen Newell, J.C. Shaw and Herbert Simon in 1955. By this time, the availability of computers had enabled scientists to work more efficiently in the field of artificial intelligence. The problem solving skills possessed by human beings were induced into computers by means of this program.
John McCarthy is said to be the father of AI. He played a significant role in bringing together people interested in artificial intelligence. McCarthy organized the Dartmouth conference in 1956. This conference proved to be the beginning of a new era in the field of artificial intelligence. The word, artificial intelligence was officially accepted by participants of this conference. Notable personalities who were part of the Dartmouth Conference included Marvin Minsky, Nathan Rochester (IBM) and Claude Shannon. Other scientists who attended this conference were Oliver Selfridge, Ray Solomonoff, Arthur, Trenchard More, Herbert Simon and Allen Newell. The Logic Theorist program developed by Allen Newell and Herbert Simon was introduced to scientists during this conference.
LISP Programming Language
Development of the LISP programming language by John McCarthy was a major advancement in artificial intelligence in the later half of 20th century. The electronic computer, 701 developed by IBM was another important development of this period.
These are the modern developments which took place in the field of artificial intelligence. The activity of creating expert systems was supported by governments of many countries. The expertise and knowledge base of human beings can be applied to problem-solving through the use of computer programs. Such computer programs are known as expert systems. These systems are however, used to solve only certain, specific problems.
Intelligent agents are mechanisms which apply information gathered from their environment in solving problems. It has been observed that machines incorporating intelligent agents in their design, function efficiently. The VaMP car that crossed the 158 km/hr speed limit without human assistance is one of the best examples of this technology. A computer that plays chess is also one of the examples of application of intelligent agents.
Advancements in artificial intelligence and especially neural networks has increased the possibility of developing highly efficient and intelligent robots. In the context of all these developments, activity of studying the pros and cons of artificial intelligence also is important. However, even after all these advancements, studies and experiments, the question of whether machines can develop common-sense through artificial intelligence remains unanswered.