In pursuing our goal to become pioneers in metacognition, we need to have our voice heard. It’s our pleasure to introduce “The Knowledge Corner”, a brand new category in our site where you can find fresh insights about bleeding-edge technologies, astonishing pieces of history or personal experiences in computer science and engineering. It is the current go-to place for tech wisdom, and we appreciate your future feedback on the proposed themes.
Our opening contribution to this category is for Artificial Intelligence, a topic that brings together some of the most hyped technologies in recent years. The chosen perspective is the historical one, with the hope that those less familiar with these technologies will find it interesting to discover the path of efforts in replicating the human way of making decisions at the machine level without human shortcomings. To begin with, AI was not AI from the start. At first, it was the natural human need to understand animal behavior. This materialized in several cybernetic experimental achievements. Later on, the need for theoretical modeling arose and fundamental research came to the forefront. With the advent of the computer, the capabilities to create intelligent machines increased significantly, reaching today’s high level of performance along with the processing power that each individual has through a mobile phone.
AI has a surprisingly long history, although many of us confuse it with the popularity that AI has enjoyed in recent years. The main reason for its popularity is that any smartphone nowadays is much more powerful than a supercomputer of the ’70s. Furthermore, we might wrongly believe that AI is a direct derivative of computer programs. The term AI describes the ability of a machine to emulate the cognitive functions associated with the human mind, such as learning and problem-solving.
It all began in antiquity, with man imagining artificial beings endowed with intelligence, then continued with the classical philosophy that characterized the process of human thought as mechanical manipulation of symbols and having the first concrete achievements through early mobile automatons – the ancestors of robots. Simply put, we can state that the history of AI overlaps the history of the cognitive science.
Along with man’s preoccupation with understanding his way of thinking, there was also an ardent curiosity to transfer this “modus operandi” to machines. The invention of the computer in the ’40s gave a unique boost to AI’s development through the opportunity glimpsed by man to build an electronic brain. Our brief incursion into the history of AI proposes three short articles, respectively:
– Early contributors
– The legacy of Alan Turing and John von Neumann
– Top achievements
As the purpose of a short story is to arouse readers’ curiosity to learn more, it is worth mentioning that some of the early theories are still the subject of debate today. Likewise, many technical achievements, such as mobile automatons and robots, relive a second youth through extended versions or the creation of more complex scenarios.