If you’ve ever heard the term artificial intelligence (AI for short), then you’ve likely had one of these three reactions:
- Fear: The spectrum of fear ranges from SciFi dystopian terror that Hal or Skynet or the Matrix will take over to general unease that a robot might “take” your job away.
- Optimism: Again this is a spectrum that ranges from eager anticipation of self-driving cars or an operating system that can be more than a friend to the ho-hum convenience that Amazon or Netflix recommendations provide us on a regular basis.
- Confusion: This is the most common reaction to the term AI, which is misused by most and misunderstood by even more.
First, let’s clarify what we mean by artificial intelligence:
- Narrow AI: This is the technology of today that can beat the best humans in games like Chess or Go. The technology of “Deep Learning” is extraordinary in its ability in a single narrow domain. All you need is a lot of data and a lot of computer processing power. This is the AI of today that can play games, diagnose some diseases, and even drive a car... but each of those programs is bespoke and unable to do anything other than what it was trained to do.
- General AI: This is the technology of the future (at least 30 years from now) that can learn just like a human and is capable of both conversation and even abstract thought.