Artificial intelligence explained

Katie Couric
Global Anchor

By Kaye Foley

When it comes to the future of artificial intelligence, the ultimate battle between man and machine may come to mind — but that’s really the stuff of science fiction. AI actually has a presence in our daily lives on a much more useful and less apocalyptic level. Think personal assistant devices and apps like Alexa, Cortana and Siri, web search predictions, movie suggestions on Netflix and self-driving cars.

The term “artificial intelligence” was coined back in 1956. It describes a machine’s ability to perform intelligent behavior such as decision-making or speech recognition.

In the last two decades or so, big strides have been made in artificial intelligence — from IBM’s Deep Blue computer beating chess champion Garry Kasparov and the company’s Watson computer winning “Jeopardy!” to social robots like Jibo and online chatbots. Today, advanced computer systems can see, hear, learn, draw conclusions and solve problems. Robotics and AI have innovated education, health care and business.

But the question remains: Will future AI be friend or foe?

Some big names in the tech and science communities, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, warn against the dangers of artificial intelligence. But most AI researchers reject doomsday scenarios, saying that while machines may be as smart as — or even smarter than — humans, they’re algorithms that can’t really think for themselves beyond what their programmers have coded them to do.

Researchers do say, however, that there are pitfalls to giving computers too much responsibility. These advanced systems can have programming glitches, not know how to respond to unexpected variables, misunderstand human instructions and be vulnerable to cyberattacks. But researchers do believe humans can safely control and regulate the development of AI.

So, whether you’re prepping for the AI apocalypse or you think robots are the wave of the future, when it comes to artificial intelligence, at least you can say, “Now I Get It.