Artificial intelligence (AI) is the capacity of a digital computer or robot operated by a computer to carry out actions frequently performed by intelligent individuals. The phrase is widely used in reference to the effort to create artificial intelligence (AI) systems that possess human-like cognitive abilities including the capacity for reasoning, meaning-finding, generalisation, and experience-based learning. It has been proven that computers can be programmed to perform extremely complicated tasks—like, for example, finding proofs for mathematical theorems or playing chess—with remarkable skill ever since the creation of the digital computer in the 1940s. Nevertheless, despite ongoing improvements in computer processing speed and memory space, there are currently no programmes that can match human adaptability across a larger range of activities or those needing a substantial amount of background knowledge. On the other hand, some programmes have reached the performance levels of human experts and professionals in carrying out some specific tasks, so artificial intelligence in this constrained sense is present in a variety of applications, including voice or handwriting recognition, computer search engines, and medical diagnosis.
Intelligence: What is it?
Even the most complex insect behaviour is never seen as a sign of intelligence, while all but the most basic human behaviour is attributed to intelligence. What is the distinction? Take the digging wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, as one example. When the female wasp brings food back to her burrow, she first places it on the threshold, looks inside for intruders, and only then, if everything is well, brings her food inside. If the food is moved a few inches from the burrow entrance while the wasp is inside, the true nature of her innate behaviour is revealed: upon her exit, she will repeat the same process every time the food is relocated. Sphex lacks intelligence, which must include the capacity to change with the environment.
Psychologists often don’t define human intelligence in terms of a single characteristic but rather a composite of several different skills. The five pillars of intelligence—learning, reasoning, problem solving, perception, and language use—have received the majority of attention in AI research.