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Artificial Intelligence


Preliminary Definitions

(taken variously from The Macquarie and Heritage Illustrated Dictionaries)

made by man, rather than occurring in nature, that which is not real but is intentionally made to appear so.
refined information with context specific rules for using that knowledge to solve problems
the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, the faculty of thought and reason, superior powers of the mind, to understand, comprehend, power of perceiving, knowing, see intelligent.
the ability to understand, revealing intelligence
the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, feeling, will, memory or imagination; the principle of intelligence; the spirit of consciousness regarded as an aspect of reality.
The act or process of thinking
Thought, to formulate in the mind, characterised by thoughtfulness, rational, a way of reasoning, judgement
The essence of totality of attitude, opinions, and sensitivities held or thought to be held by an individual or group.

'Artificial Intelligence' - Common Perception or Mis-conception

When Arthur C. Clarke wrote of a pervasive and homicidal computer called HAL in '2001 : A Space Odyssey', he managed to crystallise in the minds of many, what perils lay ahead for creators of intelligent machines. Most science fiction (as opposed to fact) lays on the pretext that 'machines' seen to be intelligent are 'smarter' than their human counterparts. Machines have been credited (in sci-fi) with emotions, murderous tendencies, dishonesty, deceitfulness, collaboration (with other machines), adaptation, self procreation and self-protection.

Reality sees truly 'intelligent' machines as a yet largely unrealised ideal, designed by people, for the use of people, controlled (ultimately) by people. The chase for true machine intelligence, although as yet unrealised, has lead to some important breakthroughs in allied fields of research.

The mimicking of so-called intelligent actions (vision, speech, reasoning, learning and so on) have lead to many of the fields that are discussed later in this chapter this paper.

The quest for machine intelligence is plagued by the receding horizons effect: Once a particular goal has been reached in the quest of exhibiting intelligence, the achievement of that particular task no longer seem to require much intelligence. Increasingly, it is being realised that to get a machine to do complex looking things is easier than getting them to do the 'simple' everyday things we take for granted.

The Chase For An 'Intelligent' Machine.

If an entity is intelligent, there should be a quantifiable set of characteristics that define it's intelligence. Clearly, an intelligent entity can REASON (ie. to draw conclusions from data, premises, heuristics/rules of thumb or to infer), and UNDERSTAND (grasping the meaning of concepts, to comprehend, knowledge of a topic).

Due to the nebulious nature of intelligence, and its supposed connection to the sentient MIND, definitions of intelligence are not rigorous. Creating something artificial based on a partial understanding of the underlying concepts is frought with difficulty.

The study of machine intelligence incorporates aspects of Computer Science (programming and data representation), Philosophy (the study of basic questions of life, the universe and everything, and the concept of the mind), Linguistics (the study of methods of communication and information structure) and Cognitive Science (the study of how animals perceive their environment).

Most people would agree that the human MIND has something to do with our intelligence level. The question that naturally follows from this is whether a mind can be incorporated into a machine (ie. can a mind be manufactured). To attempt to answer this, AI researchers need to know what and where (if anywhere) the mind exists. This poses the so-called MIND-BODY problem, central to a number of branches of AI research.

mind body problem

Many would argue (those called Interactionists) that the mind is a spiritual entity that exists separate to the physical body. Although separate, the mind and body interact influencing each other continually. Interactionists would argue that the spiritual mind uses the physical brain as a tool, and so the brain is not the intelligence of a person but simply a superbly designed processing box (incorporating parallel processing on a grand scale). If this philosophy is correct then, from an AI point of view it would seem an impossible task to produce an intelligent machine that incorporated a non-corporeal mind.

An alternative philosophy (called Materialism) argues that the mind is part of the body, that is they are both part of the central nervous system. Given their physical connection they are able to physically interact - allowing for intelligence to be viewed as a physical entity. Most AI researchers would believe that the mind is a physical entity - a 'locatable region of the nervous system', we just don't know where it is, yet. Once we have located it, we can study how it works and then it should be possible to build an artificial version. If AI researchers did not think it were possible to synthesise the function of the mind, there would be no practical basis for much of the current research.


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