Defining Artificial Intelligence

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, according to Techonopedia, is defined as “an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” In other words, it is a form of computer technology that is mean to simulate the thinking and learning process of humans, and applying it onto various new technologies. Having some human traits, and some have the options of choosing between male and female voices, the question becomes “How should we define this new specie?”, as a derivative of human technology, or a human mind that does not have a body?

According to an online article written by Kevin Kelly, the latest forms (as far as 2014) of artificial intelligence includes a database of chess playing strategies, and one medical diagnosing program. For the chess database, it is a program that the computer will play games of chess repeatedly and learn new strategies each time. Back in 1997 it was the first time that a computer had ever won against a human in a chess game. However, it was not the end of the story, in 2014, chess players who partner with AIs that own a chess playing database (aka centaurs) are dominating the highest ranking in the field.  What is great about the use of AI in the form of centaurs is that the analysis of the game will be provided by the AI; the player could either accept or override the options provided by the AI’s analyses. In the other example is a diagnostic app under development, which enables diagnosing disease by giving the AI symptoms, and after analysis the app will list a list of possible diseases based on the likeliness. According to the writer of the article, it was in fact quite accurate.  AI in both of these cases, through repeated studying, searching, analyzing and learning, are then able to gain intelligence and learn  just like humans.

What makes artificial intelligence great is its ability to learn and analyze, just like human beings, the more information that is provided to them, the better they are able to get. The development of AI began roughly 50 years ago, and what we have today is in fact not only ‘intelligent’ but ‘smart.’ SIRI is a form of AI that is very well known today. Simply launching the app on your apple product and ask a question, SIRI will provide you with an answer in no time. And in most of the cases, the answers are quite satisfying too. Compared to most other AI programs which are meant to be used for learning and analyzing (in other words, very robot-like), SIRI has more human like traits and responds like a human.  In another article written by Kaveh Waddell, the author raises a question of “should we give artificial intelligence a new pronoun?”  Being able to choose either male or female voice of SIRI adds more human like traits to the AI, however, AIs cannot be defined as real human beings. Therefore, Waddell argues, AIs should be given a new pronoun to distinguish them.

The question then becomes, how should we define AI? Giving the fact that AIs are able to learn, to analyze, to improve, and depending on development and settings it can also respond as humans, should they be defined as ‘human like mines’ or ‘robot-like mines?’ In Kelly’s article, he suggested that what people are asking for from the AIs today are their ‘intelligence,’ which is their ability to learn by processing large amount of data at once, and ‘consciousness ’ on the other hand, is what we don’t want. In other words, human intelligence should not be replaced by AIs, and we should only be using it as a tool to guide the human future. On the other side, Waddell is arguing that with the advancements and human traits provided to the AIs, simply by calling them ‘him’, ‘her ’or even ‘it’ is not appropriate. First, AI’s cannot identify themselves as either male of female; and second, using “it” takes away the human qualities of AI (The ability to learn, think and respond with logic.)

In my opinion, I would side with Kelly’s argument. In terms what humans want from these artificially made intelligent, we are demanding the technical use of it. For example, being a super computer that can predict outcomes of a game after repeating the game thousands of times, or as simple as navigating travelers to their destination safely. If we only need the learning and computing function of AIs, then a new pronoun that defines them is not necessary. They will not have consciousness or emotions, and therefore are neither organism nor humans. However,  if in the future, robots with AIs that are meant to interact with humans, for example, to be care-takers of children and elderlies in which having consciousness and emotions are necessary, then it is the time for the new pronoun to be introduced. These AIs are made to interact with humans, and inevitably human like emotions and traits are undoubtedly necessary.

In conclusion, AI’s today should only be defined as super-smart computers that are able to learn and think, but not programs that are meant to learn about emotions. They hardly have any human traits; even SIRI is programmed to provide answers that are set by programmers beforehand. If in the future, AIs that are made to interact and socialize with humans are made, then the question of redefining this new ‘specie’ should be considered. As of today, it is still a question that can only be answered in the future.

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