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Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Artificial intelligence uses computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making abilities of the human mind.

While a number of artificial intelligence (AI) definitions have emerged over the past few decades, John McCarthy offers the following definition in this 2004 document:

"Making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs, is similar to the task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but artificial intelligence does not need to limit itself to biologically observable methods”.

But decades before this definition, the birth of artificial intelligence had been demonstrated by Alan Turing's groundbreaking work, "computing machines and Intelligence," published in 1950.

Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig later published Artificial Intelligence: a Modern approach, making it one of the leading textbooks in artificial intelligence research. In it, they examine four potential AI targets, or definitions, that differentiate computer systems based on action versus rationality and thought:

Human approach:

Systems that people think like

Systems that behave like humans

Ideal approach:

Rational thinking systems

Rational-acting systems

Alan Turing's definition would fall into the category of" systems that behave like humans."

In its simplest form, artificial intelligence is a field that combines computer science and robust data sets to enable problem solving. Along with artificial intelligence, it also covers the frequently mentioned subfields of machine learning and deep learning. These disciplines consist of AI algorithms that attempt to build specialized systems that make predictions or classifications based on input data.


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