Contrary to the pop culture phenomena seen on the silver screen, artificial intelligence is in an age of relative infancy. Presently, technology is nowhere near such highly functional A.I. as seen in movies such as iRobot and Terminator. Artificial intelligence is broken down into two groups, strong and weak (Bethell, 2006).
Weak Artificial Intelligence
Weak A.I. refers to technology that is able to manipulate predetermined rules and apply the rules to reach a well-defined goal (Bethell, 2006). This type of A.I. is presently incorporated into society, especially in large industries. Assembly lines, for example utilize programs that allow machines to work independently of their operator for hours on end (Bethell, 2006). Voice recognition software is also considered a large part of artificial intelligence (Bethell, 2006).
Weak A.I. also has a very exciting future. With the exponential growth of computing power at hand, scientists believe that weak A.I. breakthroughs are in the near future. One technology that is projected to emerge is the super-computer. Super computers will be equipped with so much power that they will be able to be used as “expert systems” which will be able to use a database of expert knowledge to solve everyday problems (Boden, 1990).
While all of these breakthroughs seem very promising, the most inspirational technologies that are projected to emerge from the development of weak A.I. are the robotic, genetic and nanotechnological revolutions. These three revolutions are linked together. The thought is that once the human body is decrypted via the revolution in genetics, robots will be able to be made which will serve to treat the various malfunctions of the human body. Once this is accomplished, the hope is that a nanotechnology revolution will take place in which the robots that treat disease will be able to actually be incorporated into our bodies, function autonomously and fix our malfunctions (Kurzweil, 2006). Weak artificial intelligence is presently in use and has a very promising future, but is this technology truly intelligent?
Strong Artificial Intelligence
The second form of artificial intelligence is strong A.I. Strong A.I. refers to technology that has the ability to think cognitively or is able to function in a way similar to the human brain (Bethell, 2006). While some say this technology will never be achieved or is eons from being achieved, the basic hopes for the technology still exist. One hope is incorporated into the weak technological revolution of nanotechnology. The hope is that these nanobots will not only be able to help our bodies fight disease but also to make our bodies more intelligent (Kurzweil, 2006). The other hope is to engineer an artificial neural network capable of functioning that is comparable to a human brain. Although strong A.I. is still only in the conceptive stage, it is this technology that is the fuel that drives the fear associated with artificial intelligence.
Whether the technology in the future is classified as "intelligent" or not, it is certain that we are in store for some pretty amazing innovations to come. Some of these technologies already have there roots in the present weak A.I. in such places as assembly lines and security features. Whether artificial is technology takes a plunge towards the weak or towards the strong is still debatable ,but the drive to see just how far our technology can go will allow human kind to see and live a truly remarkable period of technological prowess.
Bethell, T. (2006, July/August). The search for artificial intelligence. American Spectator, 39(6), 26-35. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from eLibrary.
Boden, M. (1990). The social impact of artificial intelligence. In R. Kurzweil (Ed.), The Age of Intelligent Machines (pp. 450-453) Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Kurzweil, R. (2006). Reinventing humanity: The future of machine-human intelligence. The Futurist, 40, 39. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from eLibrary.