Jia Min Huang
Artificial Intelligence, AI for short, is the focus of present computer technology. The purpose of AI is to understand the nature of intelligence and to create systems, which can mimic human thought, understand speech, beat the best human chess player and other feats (An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, nd). The goal of AI research is to make computers able to reason and solve problems in the same way humans do. Artificial Intelligence is a combination of computer science, physiology, and philosophy. The research into the areas of learning, of language, and of sensory perception has aided scientists in building intelligent machines.
AI has come a long way from its early roots. It began to intrigue researchers with the invention of the computer in 1943 (An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, nd). After 50 years researching, scientists have got great success in exploring the area of AI. From machine vision to expert systems, there are a great deal of successful achievements, such as all kinds of intelligent robots, the research on Natural Language Processing and neural networks.
What is Intelligence?
The goal of Artificial Intelligence is to create intelligent computers. In that case, we have to understand the definition of intelligence before creating programs to make machines "smart". Human intelligence includes four central aspects: developmental organization, social interaction, embodiment and physical interaction, and multimodal integration (Our Research Methodology, nd).
How to Make Computers Behave Intelligently?
Computers are not like human beings that are born with essential abilities for intelligence. To program a computer so that it exhibits intelligent behavior, we have to "determine the process used by humans to produce a particular type of intelligent behavior and then simulate that process on a computer" (Kasper, 1998, P.57.). This is a very difficult and huge job. Thousands of researchers and engineers as well as advanced technology are needed.
The human brain is made up of a web of billions of cells called neurons, and understanding the brain's complexities is the aim of AI researchers. Although much of the working of the brain remains unknown, the complex network of neurons is what gives humans intelligent characteristics. Based on experiments with neurons, two researchers, Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts developed a network theory. Using this theory, they designed electronic replicas of computerized neural networks. Computerized neural networks are good at solving problems which humans are good at solving. However, computers still are weak at complex problems or solving problems with no defined solution. Though, according to McCulloch and Pitts, neural networks may be able to learn and recognize patterns in the future (Neural Network, nd).
Artificial Intelligence Computer Applications
Currently, the most popular computer application of AI is Expert Systems. An expert system, as its name, is a system like a human expert that is able to do the work of a professional. Some fields such as forecasting weather and finding bugs in computer software have used computer experts instead of human experts.
A computer system has many merits. It can be trained quickly, has virtually no operating cost, never forgets what it learns, never calls in sick, retires, or goes on vacation. Moreover, an intelligent computer can consider a large amount of information that may not be considered by humans (The Scope of Expert Systems, nd).
Boxer is the first example of a "computational medium" for real people - not just for computer experts. It is based on a literacy model, created by DiSessa, which makes the computational medium useful to everyone. People learn it once, and use it forever. Boxer contains a complete but integrated set of facilities for the broadest possible range of human intellectual activities. These facilities include text and hypertext processing, dynamic and interactive graphics video, personal data management (including e-mail and net working), and programming (Boxer, nd).
Why Build a Human-like Robot?
A robot is an electro-mechanical device that can be programmed to perform manual tasks. Researchers built a robot with a humanoid form for two sets of reasons. For one reason, if we are to build a robot with human like intelligence, then it's necessary to make a human like body for it to be able to develop similar sorts of representations. For a second reason, if the robot has humanoid form, it will be both easy and natural for humans to interact with it in human like way.
Cog is a single hardware platform which seeks to bring together each of the many sub-fields of Artificial Intelligence into one unified, coherent, functional whole (Overview of the Cog Project, nd). It is a new type of robot designed to behave in the same way as human child. Cog has an iron head and two iron arms connected to the body. And there is a set of microphones and video cameras in the head for hearing and sight. Cog's brain is made up of a network of microprocessors. All the processors work together to make Cog function properly. Cog is now still being created at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Natural Language Processing
People traditionally communicate with computers by using programming languages or a set of commands. The appearance of natural language processing (NLP) allows people and computers to communicate in a natural, human language, such as English or Chinese.
There are two sub-fields of natural language processing research: natural language understanding and natural language generation. "Natural language understanding studies methods of allowing the computer to understand instructions in ordinary English and thereby to understand people more easily. Natural language generation involves efforts to have computers produce ordinary English so that people can understand them more easily"(Kasper, 1998, P.58-59).
Since childhood, I have seen many real or cartoon movies about robots with Artificial Intelligence. The outward appearance of some of those robots looked like human beings, having a head, two arms and two legs connected to the body. The robots also behaved like humans that can talk with humans, think, learn and do all kinds of work. When I was very young, I thought the robots essentially existed in the world. But, mother told me that, "those robots are only imaged, they are impossible to create". I believed her.
After doing this research paper about AI, I developed a lot of knowledge about today's development of computer technology. The first thing I realized is what mother said about robots is not absolutely true. Robots are possible to create. And scientists have done research to make robots for many years. Now, functional robots such as Cog and Kismet are almost finished.
AI is a broad topic. It consists of many different fields. Besides intelligent robots, scientists are also exploring to make Expert Systems, neural networks, Natural Language Processing and so on. In conclusion, the element that the fields of AI have in common is the creation of machines that can "think".
Scientists are now still on their ways of inventing intelligent computer. I believe they will get success in not a long time. Then we will use computers more conveniently. For example, we won't have to learn all kinds of complicated programming languages to communicate with our computers, but just "tell" the computers to do what we want. This would be very helpful for the Computer Science people. Now learning programming languages is a primitive part in Computer Science. Many people deem Computer Science as the hardest major in college, because the programming languages are difficult to learn. Moreover, we can make friends with computers. Then, whenever we have something weighing in our minds, but we feel shy to talk to parents or friends, we can share it with computers. This would be very amazing.
AI research has made a huge contribution to computer science. All the theories and insights of AI research have enhanced the development of computers and they will continue to set the trend for the future of computing. The products available today are only bits and pieces of what are soon to follow, but they are a movement towards the future of artificial intelligence. The advancements in the quest for artificial intelligence have, and will continue to affect our jobs, our education, and our lives.
Kasper, Loretta F. (1998). Interdisciplinary English. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 55-59.
Our Research Methodology (1999) [online]. Available:http://www.ai.mit.edu/projects/cog/methodology.html
Overview of the Cog Project (1999). [online]. Available: http://library.thinkquest.org