Artificial intelligence, or AI, has gotten record breaking smart. It has outsmarted world champions in poker, chess, and even won jeopardy (we all thought for sure it was impossibly rigged, who knew?!). But does AI use its membranes and actually think?
The definition of intelligence is actually pretty complicated. For instance, one can be book-smart, emotionally gifted, rational, wise etc. It’s pretty rare to be more than one. Our brains respond to things differently, which further complicates our question, does AI actually think?
Let’s take a look at the human brain – it consists of billions of connected neurons that transmit information to places and areas designed to function as memory, language, and thought. Just as we build muscle, we also build on our cognitive abilities, which means we become “smarter”. This is true for AI as well. With the creation of artificial neural networks (ANN), a machine learning algorithm which mimics neurons, AI is able to learn and build on what it already “knows”. The more layers of ANN, the more links between data. This resembles human thinking – when we process input, we do so in something similar to layers. For example, when we watch a baseball game on tv it seems we’re just taking in the basic information about what’s happening. But in reality, we’re taking in a lot more: who’s on the field (and who must be in the dugout), what plays are being run and why, how the game fits into existing data or history (Does one team frequently beat the other? Is the pitcher striking out as many as usual?), and many other details that we’re not even realizing. When processing and digesting all of this information we employ memory, pattern recognition, statistical and strategic analysis, comparison, prediction, and many other cognitive capabilities. AI and deep learning attempt to capture those layers.
Ever wonder how Facebook knows to place a bathing suit ad on your page after you’ve booked a tropical vacation? Or how it recommends some completely relevant page milliseconds after you’ve liked a related page? Deep learning.
AI and deep learning can be applied to all sorts of things but it can also be used with faces. AI can identify family members who attended a wedding or employees who thought they attended that concert on the down-low (sure they were sick that day). These algorithms can also recognize objects in context – such a program that could identify Legos on the living room floor, as well as the pile of dolls and a high chair. The conclusions taken from that picture of the toy-strewn living room can be used for targeted advertising, among other things.
AI is mimicking the human brain more and more. As time passes, AI will keep learning just as we do: by watching YouTube videos and by reading books. Whether that’s comforting or terrifying is another question.