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Definition: AI in a nutshell


Artificial intelligence refers to computers that emulate human intelligence. AI systems essentially perform two functions: pattern recognition and robotics. Pattern recognition identifies human faces, natural language, objects and trends, essentially patterns in almost any set of data.

Robotics are industrial or human-like forms that move mechanical extremities. In order for robots to identify objects and spoken language, pattern recognition is also built into robotic systems. See robot and AI.

AI is employed to make decisions in business and make profits in the financial markets. It is also used to answer myriad questions as well as generate unique essays, stories and images. AI is even used to write software. See generative AI, ChatGPT, GPT and Bard.

The Tools - Not Ordinary Programming
The software architecture of AI pattern recognition is the "neural network," which is entirely different than regular "if this-do-that" programming. Comprising multiple layers that connect to each other, the neural name was coined as an imprecise analog of the neurons in the human brain. People learn by experience as do neural networks, which analyze patterns in millions, billions and trillions of text and image examples gleaned from websites, blogs, articles, dictionaries, encyclopedias and books.

Known as "language models," the more layers in the neural network, the "deeper" the learning. The more samples of data fed in the training stage, the larger the knowledge base and more comprehensive the results when asked to do work (analyze; predict; generate).

A Simple Example
If 10,000 chest x-rays showing lung cancer and 10,000 cancer-free x-rays are fed into a neural network, the system learns the differences between them. Such systems can detect diseases as accurately or better than most medical professionals, and most importantly, much faster than humans. See large language model, deep learning and neural network.

Everything Is a Pattern
No matter what people do in life, over time, they perform repetitious patterns. When these patterns are captured as data, they can be used to train an AI. Although human intelligence is implied, AI results are the regurgitation of historical patterns combined with varying degrees of influence programmed into the software by AI designers.

Concern for the Future
What worries people is the research being done to replace human decision making with AI software. For example, should an AI be used to determine when a company expands or contracts? Will AI eliminate millions of jobs? Even more significant, do we leave the decision to go to war up to a machine? There is a huge amount of controversy regarding the future because of AI (see AI anxiety and AI hallucination). See AI, AGI and AI stages.




AI Will Reign Supreme
MIT professor Max Tegmark's best-selling book postulates an AI that far exceeds human intelligence and literally takes over.




A Note from the Author
Everyone has an opinion about AI whether they really understand it or not. Well, so do I... after all, I've been in the industry more than 60 years. I define technical terms every day and still write code to deploy this encyclopedia in various formats.

If AI replaces human analysis, it may cause immense problems, especially if it decides a country should go to war. However, I believe that over the next 10-20 years, we will suffer far more misery worldwide due to social media disinformation. Already here and now, there are outright lies on social media that may prove very dangerous to our civilization. To gain clicks and ad revenue, the social networks amplify falsehoods as part of their business model, and today, this is the real danger of technology. If it is not addressed soon and properly, we may not have time to worry about AI taking over. See disinformation.