Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Can Machines Think?
For many years, scientists and philosophers alike have been wondering about whether machines can “think”, a term that usually refers to the capability of humans to solve complex problems.
It was John McCarthy who coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) and defined it as “the study and design of intelligent agents”. Research into the field began with great expectations, thinking that the problems posed could be solved in a few years. However, they did not take into consideration the complexity of the task and soon found out that the progress in the field of AI was very slow.
In the first place, the amount of computer power was very modest. The algorithms for “learning” or “machine learning”, as we know them today, were inexistent. In addition, there were many different branches of artificial intelligence: solving interconnected problems, such as speech recognition, pattern detection, perception, social intelligence and many more that were very difficult.
It was Dr. Ray Kurzweil, a scientist involved in AI research, who discovered that the rate of growth of information technologies is exponential, not linear. This means that the capacity of computers doubles every year while the price goes down by a half; that explains why it took the scientists 9 years to decode 25% of the human genome while solving the remaining 75% took only one year.
According to Kurzweil, by 2029 the increased computer power will reach a “singularity point” that will allow us to build “learning machines” more intelligent than humans. That will be the ultimate goal of AI.