Artificial Intelligence

For the last 2.5 million years mankind has evolved and honed the means to connect and react to his environment. This connection to the physical world can be considered as input from his ability to see, taste, hear, feel and smell his surroundings. His eyes, mouth, ears, skin, and nose collected data and transferred it to the brain for processing, manipulating, and organizing it, to make decisions and take actions necessary to survive in and improve his environment.

In the last 5000 years man has used his intelligence to invent new and ever more powerful tools - speech, writing, graphics, printing, machinery, electronics - to ease the physical aspects of survival and advance his dominance of the environment. These tools were still connected to the brain via the 5 senses.

In the last 50 years a new tool, the computer, began to evolve that did not have an output that could directly connect to the brain. A medium was needed to translate the computers output to a type of input the brain could process - printed documents, graphics, video. As the capability of computers rapidly increased, massive amounts of data could be collected, processed, organized, manipulated and presented. As the sheer amount of data increased it was recognized that, however the data was presented, the brain could not make the most efficient, effective, or timely use of it.

In the past 30 years the idea of using the computer itself to act as the brain does has been progressing rapidly to process, organize, and manipulate enormous volumes and varieties of raw data (i.e. connect the dots). But now progress is going a step further - to make autonomous decisions and take unsupervised actions. This is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As the AI computer field grew it was obvious that AI was better than the brain in many tasks and situations. For instance, AI: works around-the-clock, 24/7; is more efficient and accurate; handles complex problems; has the capacity to process extremely large data sets; and has the ability to directly integrate with a large number of computer applications, machinery and devices.

Although sometimes unrecognized, AI is a common factor in everyday life and operates seamlessly with the brain. For example: Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, self-driving cars, autonomous drones, manufacturing robots. AI is an exciting and trending topic with many branches that will transform our lives in many unexpected ways far into the future.

The discussions in this topic are intended to provide an initial overview of AI for all interested readers. It is designed as a quick read for a decision-maker, an involved reader who needs a quick understanding of the AI topic at a high level, or someone who needs to get topically up-to-speed.

Begin with Definitions.