This ever-tiresome and frothy topic of the 21st century. It seems like you can't walk two feet without hearing someone talk about how AI will change the world (and, of course, steal our jobs). So, grab your favorite overpriced coffee and buckle up, because it's time to grok the wonderful (hideous?) world of AI.
AI has its roots in the musings of mathematician and philosopher Alan Turing. Back in 1950, Turing asked a seemingly innocuous question: "Can machines think?" Since then, people have been trying to make him proud (or roll in his grave) by attempting to build machines that can think. And by "think," we mean optimally solving problems based on available information, interacting with their environment, and generally appearing intelligent.
In the process of this never-ending quest for machine intelligence, researchers have built AI systems that can play chess, beat world-class Go players, drive cars (well, mostly), and even write sarcastic articles about AI. Impressive indeed!
Let's talk about Machine Learning (ML), the darling child of AI research and the reason why this article might be replaced by an AI-generated version in the not-so-distant future. ML is all about teaching machines to learn from data (or does the data teach them? It's hard to say). The general idea is to take a colossal amount of data, feed it to a computer algorithm (often called a model), and then let the model figure out some nifty patterns hidden in the data. Low and behold, once the algorithm has learned from this data, we can use it to predict things like whether you'll click on an ad or spot a cat in a picture. You know, the essential stuff that keeps humanity going.
Deep Learning (DL) is another hot term thrown around like candy. It's a subfield of ML involving artificial neural networks, which were totally not inspired by the human brain. These networks are composed of many layers, hence the "deep" part, and can learn surprisingly complex patterns. However, they're also as inscrutable as a cat's motives – no one seems to know exactly why they work so well or how they arrive at their conclusions. But hey, as long as it gets the job done, who cares if we don't comprehend the inner workings of these black boxes, right?
Now for the Holy Grail of AI: General Artificial Intelligence (AGI), also known as "true AI" or "that thing from sci-fi movies." AGI refers to a hypothetical AI system that can do everything a human can do – and maybe even more! We're talking about AI with human-like emotions, intuition, creativity, and a sense of humor. Yeah, good luck with that one. But don't worry, futurists assure us that AGI is just around the corner. Needless to say, they've been saying that for decades.
Even though we don't have AGI, AI and its offshoots have already permeated our lives in countless ways. It's behind many of the technologies we use daily, like search engines, recommendation systems, and voice assistants that always understand us perfectly (not). While many of these applications are undoubtedly useful, they also come with their fair share of concerns. Privacy? Who needs it when we have personalized ads and home gadgets listening to our every word. As for job loss due to AI automation – well, at least we'll have more time to binge-watch Netflix series.
Now that we've "grokked" AI in all its cynical glory, you might be filled with a mix of excitement, skepticism, and perhaps a tinge of existential dread. While it's true that AI has made enormous strides in recent years, our journey to create machines that think is far from over – as is the debate about whether we should be pursuing it in the first place. In the meantime, let's keep our eyes peeled for the next groundbreaking AI achievement, or, you know, the robot apocalypse. Whichever comes first.
Grok.foo is a collection of articles on a variety of technology and programming articles assembled by James Padolsey. Enjoy! And please share! And if you feel like you can donate here so I can create more free content for you.